The average American will spend 90 percent of their life indoors. Work, school, and the comfort of your home contribute to this large amount of time spent indoors. Why does it matter if people spend most of their time inside? Inadequate ventilation, as well as chemical and biological contaminants from carpeting, cleaning products, and mold, all lead to indoor environments having much higher concentrations of pollutants than the outdoors.
These high pollutant levels have led to people developing Sick Building Syndrome. Sick Building Syndrome is a condition which occurs when occupants experience health related effects due to poor indoor air quality and where the exact cause of the symptoms is unknown. Occupants with Sick Building Syndrome will often complain about symptoms of acute discomfort such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating as well as eye, nose, or throat irritation. Symptoms will often disappear soon after the occupant leaves the building and is exposed to lower concentrations of pollutants.
When assessing different types of buildings, schools often have higher percentages of occupants suffering Sick Building Syndrome. This is in part because schools are under financial pressures to reduce the costs of construction, operation, and maintenance of the building. These pressures lead to schools having poorer indoor air quality which increases the chances of building occupants developing Sick Building Syndrome.
With a strained budget, schools are often unable to pay for a building health assessment or install expensive air quality monitoring systems to understand and fix issues relating to indoor air quality and overall building health. However, as new wireless technologies enter the market, such as the sensors used at ioAirFlow, tracking the indoor environmental quality of a building is becoming more affordable. This is due in part to decreased installation costs from not having to disturb building structures that are often associated with the implementation of permanent wired monitoring systems. This helps make building health assessments and monitoring more accessible to buildings like schools, which can lead to improved indoor air quality and reductions in the number of people experiencing Sick Building Syndrome.
It is especially important to assess the air quality in schools as there is high occupancy density and young children are more susceptible to the effects of high indoor pollutant concentrations. With symptoms including difficulty concentrating, indoor air quality requires careful consideration as it is directly correlated to childrens’ ability to learn and retain information while at school. Children are the next generation of leaders. It is important that we keep their learning environments as healthy and safe as we can.
By Carly Dyck - ioAirFlow Summer Co-op Student