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Identifying The Causes, Symptoms And Effects Of Poor Indoor Quality


Identifying The Causes, Symptoms And Effects Of Poor Indoor Quality

Last Updated on April 18, 2014

It is scientifically proven that the quality of air inside buildings is sometimes lower than the quality of air outside. In fact, that is most often the case especially in homes and office buildings. The worse condition of the air inside buildings often comes from contaminants within that building, and may result to sickness for people who live, work or frequent these buildings.


If you calculate the total time you spend at work, school, hospital, banks, hotels, and at home, you will realize that you spend 90% of your time indoors. Thus, it is essential to improve the indoor air quality as much as possible.

Main Causes Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Numerous possible factors can affect the quality of air inside the buildings. As aforementioned, contaminants from the buildings are the main culprits. When a building does not have sufficient ventilation, there is little fresh air getting into the building flush out or dilute contaminates, which leads to their concentration in the air.

Thus, poor ventilation and inadequate fresh air are the main causes of poor quality of air in buildings. Other causes could be biological contaminants, pollutants from processes taking place within the building, and pollutants given off by furnishings or the building itself.

Common Symptoms Of Poor Air Quality

People exposed to poor air quality indoors do not display fast, acute symptoms. These symptoms are subtle and slow. Normally, the symptoms are different for everyone and other stressors or problems such as heat may make them worse. Some people may not notice them while others may be more sensitive.

It is easy to view people affected by poor air quality as complainers or over-emotional since they symptoms are subjective. To take a more effective problem-solving approach, it is essential to place this issue on a scientific basis. Here are some of the common symptoms people affected by this problem might experience:

• General hypersensitivity reactions
• Irritation of throat, eyes and nose
• Nausea and even dizziness
• Dry skin and mucus membrane
• Wheezing and hoarseness
• Rashes and flushing or reddening of the skin
• Cough and airway infections
• Sleepiness, headaches and general mental fatigue

Determine If Your Building Has Poor Air Quality

As aforementioned, symptoms of air quality are subjective and subtle. It is difficult to identify if your building has a problem especially if you have never thought about it before. A simple and excellent place to start is to check the ventilation system. You can call in the experts to establish if enough air is getting into the building. Scientists recommend that office spaces have at least 5 cubic feet per minute per individual, of outdoor air. There exist similar recommendations for homes and other buildings.

Examine the behavior of people who reside in the building, and be alert to complaints of the common symptoms of poor air quality. Enhancing indoor air quality does not mean you have to make the air pristine and pure as that of the outdoor environment. However, it has to be relatively pure such that occupants do not experience any of the symptoms or illness caused by poor air quality inside their buildings.