By: First Union
Is The Air Quality In Buildings Important?
On average, people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors: homes, schools, offices. That said, the quality of indoor air is not where it needs to be. Because of gases and chemicals from furnishings, pollutants and particulates from cooking, and just simply poor ventilation, in many cases our building structures are making us sick.
Fortunately, scientists, engineers, and developers are starting to realize that the air quality of a building is important, and strides are being made to address the issue. For one, the LEED program established by the US Green Building Council has gone a long way toward encouraging construction professionals to design and build structures that utilize green practices. Additionally, many are working to retrofit buildings in which the air quality is indeed poor by integrating more efficient mechanical ventilation systems. There is still though so much more that needs to be done when it comes to addressing the spaces in which we live and work.
What Are Some of the Problems Caused By Poor Air Quality?
Very much a silent threat, the compromised air that we breathe inside of poorly designed and/or poorly ventilated buildings can lead to a wide range of health issues. Scientists have, as of late, focused on the cognitive problems that can arise. One such study done found that critical thinking and decision making skills can be impacted when individuals work day in and day out within rooms that are stuffy and have high levels of particulates and bacteria in the air. Beyond just these impaired cognitive abilities, employees also showed signs of skin irritation, fatigue, and chronic headaches.
Green building initiatives are certainly needed; however, we have to go further. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC/) have to be addressed—whether they come from furniture or are somehow leaking into a building's envelope, VOCs can cause more serious conditions such as the weakening of muscle tissue and even Bells Palsy. Ventilation issues also need to be rectified ASAP; it may cost money, but it's investing in the health and well-being of the people who inhabit a structure daily.