October has come and gone this year, but before you turn your attention to the holidays and other end-of-year festivities, take some time to reflect on the air you breathe every day inside your home and workplace. Indeed, October is National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month. This month is all about broadening the public’s awareness and understanding of the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ), as well as how to achieve cleaner air inside facilities. Even if you failed to actively observe NIAQAM this year, it’s never too late to take these matters seriously. And now that October is over, there’s no better time to reflect on your recent actions in regards to IAQ improvement and/or renew your commitment to these efforts.
At The Budd Group, IAQ concerns have always been a priority in our building maintenance offerings. Of course, we’re always learning new things, and we enjoy sharing this knowledge with our clients to help everyone breathe better. With that in mind, let’s go over some key takeaways from NIAQAM that you might have missed.
Most People Spend the Majority of Their Time Indoors
No matter how much you love the great outdoors, indoors is where you and most others will spend most of the time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), average Americans are indoors 90% of the time. This fact means that most of the air we breathe comes from inside a home, workplace, business, or other facilities. Knowing this, the significance of IAQ becomes clearer -- if we’re going to be breathing indoor air to such a degree, we’re at the mercy of its purity, or lack thereof.
The Quality of Indoor Air Influences Occupant Health
Though we never stop breathing air, we can’t see it. The invisible nature of air can make it difficult to know much about it at a moment’s notice. However, impure indoor air can make itself known in other ways, namely in its ability to deter the health of occupants. Prolonged exposure to air that’s filled with odors, allergens, and pollutants can result in illness as well as exacerbate chronic conditions like asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, and more. During this ongoing pandemic, air disinfection for coronavirus has become a hot topic, as the virus that causes COVID-19 can circulate via indoor air. Conversely, clean indoor air can yield several health and psychological benefits, including improved mood and increased energy levels. So, while you can’t see the air you breathe, your body will respond to its composition, for better or worse.
OSHA, EPA, and ASHRAE Set the Standard for Indoor Air Quality
While there are currently no federal or legal guidelines regarding IAQ, various accredited organizations have developed and regularly update standards for facilities to determine the correct levels of air filtration. Today, the leading experts in this field are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and EPA. Those in charge of facility maintenance should become well-acquainted with these entities and their guidance for IAQ, as adhering to these standards will both improve occupant health outcomes and ensure that the business remains compliant with any and all regulations (these can vary from industry to industry and region to region).
Going over the standard for indoor air ventilation set forth by ASHRAE (62.1) is a good way to get acclimated to what constitutes acceptable IAQ, which in this case refers to air that contains “...no known contaminants at harmful concentrations as determined by cognizant authorities and with which a substantial majority (80% or more) of the people exposed to not express dissatisfaction.” Though not the most concrete definition of “good IAQ,” ASHRAE’s current written standard points out the significance of removing as many contaminants from the air as possible with your facility and maintaining occupant comfort and health.
The Indoor Air Quality Sector Is Growing Fast
Because we at The Budd Group keep a close eye on industry trends, we’re well aware of how quickly the IAQ market is growing. In addition to the exponential development of air filtration and purification technologies (i.e., activated carbon and electrostatic air filters, UV-C light purification, etc.), homeowners and business owners are becoming more conscious of IAQ and its role in the larger environment. More and more people are seeking the balance between maintaining clean indoor air without expending too much energy in the process. In recent blogs, we’ve gone over the effectiveness and efficiency of AirBOX purification devices. Technologies like these not only maintain clean air to a superior degree -- they also aim to keep their negative environmental impact to a minimum by prioritizing efficiency. We believe that this sector will continue to expand and evolve until all facilities can easily achieve cleaner air at a minimal cost.
Ongoing IAQ Evaluation Is Key to Improvement
If there’s one thing to take away from National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month, it’s that IAQ monitoring is at the heart of maintaining acceptable IAQ. After all, if you can’t readily track the condition of your indoor air, you won’t be able to make the necessary changes to improve it. Once you’ve invested in a reliable IAQ monitoring system, you must continuously evaluate the gathered data. Additional ways to maintain and improve IAQ include preventive maintenance (i.e., changing out filters routinely and performing seasonal HVAC maintenance), limiting indoor pollution (i.e., increasing ventilation with open doors and windows when the weather allows, keeping surfaces clean), and upgrading air purification and filtration systems when needed (paying particular attention to HEPA and MERV ratings).
Give Your Facility a Fresh Start with Lessons Learned from Indoor Air Quality Month
If you don’t typically give much thought to your building’s indoor air quality, perhaps now you’ll feel more motivated to take these matters seriously -- the health and satisfaction of your employees, partners, and customers depend on it. This year’s National Indoor Air Quality Month has blown away in the wind, but there’s no time like the present to act on your IAQ. The Budd Group is here to help you in your pursuit to breathe easier inside your facility. To learn more about our services and everything else that we do for our clients, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!