An elephant...in a room!

Indoor air pollution: the (almost) invisible elephant in the room

November 11th, 2019

Outdoor pollution: there’s so much talking about it, that barely anyone can say to actually know nothing about it. And that’s good. That’s very good, as the world is finally understanding the risk the human race is facing with air pollution. But when it comes to indoor air pollution, how comes that most are still unaware?

Do we really believe the walls in our homes to be some sort of magic shields, protecting us from the mean outside air? Do we see the windows in our offices as a new horror version of ‘Don’t Open the Door!’? Have we grown accustomed to nasty smells, unproductive days and sneaky pollutants rooting for our demise?

No, this is not the script of some horror movie, nor the new ‘Harry Potter and the Airborne Pollutants Prisoner‘. This is reality. In reality, we all know on some level that indoor air can be bad. Maybe because our first instinct when entering a room that’s been sealed for some time is to open the windows. Maybe we reminisce of distant motherly advices, telling us to let some fresh air in or turn off the air conditioner every once in a while.

Even Benjamin Franklin knew it, over 200 years ago:

“I am persuaded that no common air from without is so unwholesome as air within a closed room that has been often breathed and not changed.”

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin quote on indoor air pollution.

So, we do know, deep inside. Still, when EPA’s reports tell us that indoor air is up to 5 times worse than outdoor air, our mouths open in disbelief. That’s the elephant in the room – many know about it, but only few are willing to aknowledge it, to take action and actually do something about it.

The data

  • We spend on average 90% of our time indoors (source: EPA)
  • Indoor air pollution either causes or aggravates 50% of all illnesses (source: AMA – IAQUK.co.uk)
  • Children and elders are more susceptible to poor Indoor Air Quality – they are also the ones who tend to spend more time indoors (source: NCBI)
  • 1.5 million people die every year due to indoor air pollution (source: WHO)
  • Poor IAQ affects 33-50% of all commercial buildings in the US (source: EPA)
  • Employees tend to take 30% fewer sick leaves when the IAQ is improved in the workplace (source: World Green Building Council) and perform 61% better in green environments
  • Indoor pollutants are 1,000 times more likely to be breathed in than something released outdoors (source: NYT)

What can we do, then, to finally address the indoor air pollution problem?

The solutions

Spread Awareness. As simple as it is, it never fails. The good old fashioned word of mouth. If you follow us on social media, you know: it is something we deeply care about, and try to pursue every day.

Take care of your indoor environment. There are literally hundreds of tips you could follow. Some better than others, sure. Follow our hashtag #AirQualityTip on Twitter to read a few, or share your own!

Enforce your health rights. You deserve a safe workplace. Improved indoor air quality is beneficial for both staff’s health (reducing sick leaves and improving physical conditions) and performances. It’s a win-win!

Use IAQ monitors. You feel safe in your home, you change your filters regularly, you avoid chemical fragrances and follow all the steps. And it still might not be enough. Having a real time assessment of the indoor air quality in your home, office, car, can help ease your mind. Many countries are also working on regulations to require IAQ monitoring in offices, schools, hospitals and more.

Interested in knowing more about Airgloss? Read more on our website. You can also catch up on our background working with NASA or have a laugh at the 10 worst office behaviours (that impact indoor environment quality, too!)

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