The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted our nation's glaring need to improve air quality inside our public schools, businesses, and office buildings.
What is IAQ and Why Does It Matter?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of air within and around buildings and structures. It is gauged by the presence, or lack thereof, of various kinds of harmful particles, including pathogens.
It is a critical factor in the health and well-being of anyone who spends any length of time inside a building and is directly related to environmental health.
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on the importance of IAQ in schools and businesses, alongside a growing recognition of the impact that poor air quality can have on health, productivity, social issues, and the economy.
The Economic Impact of Poor IAQ
The negative economic impact of poor IAQ cannot be overstated, commonly resulting in:
- Property damage.
- Diminished workforce and classroom output volume and quality.
- Long-term occupant issues, including asthma, cancer, and heart disease, and;
- Dramatically increasing public healthcare costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information;
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) takes its toll in a variety of ways.
It damages health and possessions; it lowers productivity at work; and it diverts resources to diagnosing and solving problems that result from it.
Although the economic costs of some of these damages are fairly tangible and easy to quantify, a large portion are hidden.
The cumulative impact can easily reach into the billions of dollars.
The economic costs of poor IAQ also include the actual damages to property caused by contaminants.
Indoor air pollutants can damage metals, paints, textiles, paper, and magnetic storage media and can cause increased soiling, deterioration of appearance, and reduced service life for furniture draperies, interiors, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
Injury to people represent an even larger cost of poor IAQ.
One study indicated that for every 100 white-collar workers, poor IAQ would cause an extra 24 doctor visits per year.
This amounts to another $288 million.
Poor IAQ Contributes to the Spread of Illness and Chronic Disease
In addition to economic factors, IAQ plays an essential role in the spread of disease.
Studies have shown that poor air quality:
- Can significantly impact health, causing respiratory problems, headaches, and fatigue, and;
- It can also contribute to the spread of infectious diseases by increasing the risk of airborne transmission.
According to the U.S. National Institutes on Health;
The link between severe viral respiratory diseases, which cause infection in 10–20% of the population and air pollution, is well established.
[...] air pollutants such as PM2.5 and PM10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone, can affect airways through inhalation, exacerbating the susceptibility to respiratory virus infections, as well as the severity of these infections.
In relation to this [it was] recently hypothesized that an atmosphere with a high content of air pollutants, together with certain climatic conditions, might promote a longer permanence of the viral particles in the air.
It would favor an indirect diffusion of SARS-CoV-2, in addition to the direct diffusion individual to individual.
[It was also noted] how the Italian Northern Regions, which are the most affected by COVID-19, match those areas showing also the highest concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5.
These authors have suggested that the SARS-CoV-2 could find suitable transporters in air pollutant particles.
In addition, in a linear relationship, the viruses would survive longer and could become more aggressive in an immune system already aggravated by the air pollutants themselves.
Additionally, a report published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that several groups, including children, were at heightened risk from long-term damage due to indoor air pollution exposure.
According to the EPA;
Certain groups of people may be particularly vulnerable to exposures of certain pollutants or pollutant mixtures.
People with heart disease may be more adversely affected by exposure to carbon monoxide than healthy individuals.
People exposed to significant levels of nitrogen dioxide are at higher risk for respiratory infections.
In addition, the developing bodies of children might be more susceptible to environmental exposures than those of adults.
Conversely, the benefits of high-quality IAQ are numerous and include:
- Improved occupant mental and physical health and well-being.
- Increased productivity and;
- Reduced facility resource use and utility costs.
IAQ is a critical factor in the health and well-being of people who work and study in schools and businesses and the environment.
With the increasing trend in the importance of IAQ, schools and companies must prioritize the maintenance and improvement of indoor air quality through proper monitoring and management and regular cleaning practices.
Improving IAQ can have numerous benefits, including improved health and well-being, increased productivity, and reduced energy costs, which can contribute to a more robust and sustainable economy.
Unfortunately, onboarding and managing the requisite labor and material resources in the current market may prove cost-prohibitive and undesirable for many organizations.
Outsourcing is a proven method for onboarding skilled service providers equipped with the latest training, processes, and technologies for a fraction of the price of maintaining a comparable service in-house.
Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450
In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410
In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777