Poor indoor air quality can result in significant adverse impacts on our health and environment. Moreover, these impacts carry a significant cost burden on the economy. The CSIRO estimates that poor indoor air quality in Australia may cost as high as $12 billion per year.
So, what to do about it?
We spend most of our time indoors during that time, people cook, clean, chat, read, play, watch TV and do other things. People also bathe and sleep. And throughout it all, they breathe. New studies find that our activities can pollute the air we breathe indoors. And some of those compounds may harm our health.
Bike racks and solar panels are two of the urban development ‘sustainability’ features that are “trending,” however, a few solar panels and a stylish bicycle are hardly the makings of an eco-friendly home. How is it possible to remove toxins from the air without eco-friendly technology?There are 2 big things to know when it comes to indoor air pollution:
- The pollutants within the air in our building have been linked to all kinds of illnesses and;
- Due to the lack of sealing in modern buildings, the concentrations of external toxins/allergens are getting higher.
That’s why we need to improve our building standards.
Controlled ventilation offers the distribution of clear fresh air across every area of indoor living space. Air pollutants are monitored and exhausted from the main rooms, and a balanced recovery ventilation system removes pollutants from the wet rooms (bathrooms, kitchen and Laundry areas).
The airflow is supported to achieve the perfect balance between dryness and moisture that flows throughout corridors and the corner of each room; keeping the property at an ideal temperature and volume of air.Common indoor air pollutants are created by chemicals, allergens, excess moisture and VOC’s. Here’s why you should be mindful:
Allergens have been a leading cause of health conditions such as asthma, eczema, hay-fever and food allergies, with steadily increasing numbers over the past few years in Western Countries.Environmental factors such as mode of birth, diet and others can play a role too. Sources of Allergens in the home include:
- House dust mites
Studies have shown significant differences between when there is dust inhaled with pesticides and those who have similar ancestry and lifestyles. This is particularly of relevance for children, who have been proven to inhale more than adults.
Please don’t ignore this, as populations increase, polluted environment/dust/pollen’s will affect you and your family health. With high performance homes based on building science, this problem can be easily solved.
Volatile Organic Compounds
VOC’s are an invisible range of air-polluting substances that evaporate and continue to be inhaledThere are several different types including:
- Building materials and furniture (carpet and furniture)
- Gas and fuel from the garage
- Cooking odor
- Body odor
These all include the eye, nose and throat irritating chemical known as ‘formaldehyde,’ which can also be so strong it results in asthma or damage to the linings of the nose and throat.
VOC’s are often at concentrations that are too low to be sensed which means they often go undetected. Cooking and cleaning are two of the most common causes of this within the household air compounds.
Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices such as using polluting stoves with solid fuels and kerosene. Many people suffer ongoing as a result of their stoves due to odors and toxic fumes.
VOC’s CO2 & NO
Over 3 billion people contribute to toxic cooking processes each year, and many of them suffer from premature illnesses that could be avoided with fresh clear air.
Whilst emissions of many harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide have fallen by 80% since the 1970’s- There are still a great deal more to be discovered.
But where do these VOC’s exist?
NO2 otherwise known as ‘laughing gas’ and its close relative CO2 is hardly anything to joke about. They are the most common VOC’s and generally happen when fuel does not fully burn. Other causes include when wood or natural gas are burned, or if these VOC’s are released as a result of leaks.
You will likely find the most guilty VOC culprits to be domestic gas heaters, cooking stoves and wood, polish finishes, silicones etc VOC’s create headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain and can cause a ‘flu-like’ disease.
The VOC fumes become even higher concentrated within enclosed spaces. Once inhaled, the fumes can displace oxygen within the blood and deprive the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen.
Once you’ve finished having a shower, you know to leave on the fan or open a window in order to ventilate- But even when doing this, the health of a building occupant and the building itself are being negatively affected.
The most common moisture problems arise when warm moist air encounters a cool surface such as a mirror, window, or the wall of cooler space. Condensation is then left on the surface and over time can cause mold, mildew and dust mites.
It’s often easier to spot this form of air pollution. The effects of moisture can cause asthma, allergies, destroy wood products, and accelerate the rusting of metal building components.
High indoor humidity can also facilitate “off-gassing” of toxins in furniture or cleaning products.
Indoor air pollution quite frankly might maybe a slow-kille
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
If you are planning to build, with all this knowledge would you use ordinary building standards that are proven faulty and don’t have your health at heart?
The Passive Home (high performance) building standard is the solution to the evergrowing air concerns, it’s no wonder passive homes are quickly being adopted, and become the fastest-growing building standards across the world.