~Be As Fully Informed As You Can Be~
Although the next few blogs are not a part of the Do’s and Don’ts series, we at Iron View think you will want to know about some important issues involving air quality of indoor environments that affect health and how an inspector can and should inform.
For the last several decades much attention has been focused on indoor air pollution and its associated heath risk. Since the energy crisis in the 1970’s, changes in building material and new construction techniques have increased levels of pollutants. This has created problems related to indoor air quality. The need to conserve energy and the need for well-ventilated living and working areas is often in direct conflict with each other.
Research, with extensive new studies, tells us that we now spend up to 90% of our time indoors. Recent studies show a worker’s productivity may drop by 50% due to compromised air quality. Inadequate ventilation can raise indoor levels of pollutants and may not bring in enough outdoor air to dilute the indoor air pollutants within the environment. Another cause that will add to indoor air problems, is the temperature and humidity, prevalent in the last decades. Besides mold there are other potential sources that give cause to control and monitor indoor air quality.
- Carbon Monoxide
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products, Household Cleaning and Maintenance, Personal Care Products
- Nitrogen Dioxide Pesticides
- Second Hand Smoke/Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Construction Material
In October 2006 Environment Canada, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada joined efforts to publish a ‘Notice of Intent’ to develop and implement regulations and other measures to reduce air emissions. The Minister of Health set to developing a priority list of indoor contaminants and health risk assessments that would be used to develop indoor air quality guidelines. These guidelines would aid in regulating products that emit pollutants indoors. (www.hc-sc.gc.ca)
There are numerous mechanical devices and outdoor-vented fans that will remove air from a single room, such as a bathroom or kitchen. The use of air handling systems (fans and duct work) will continuously remove indoor air and bring in filtered, conditioned outdoor air throughout the environment.
The continuous flow of filtered air is known as Air Exchange Rate (AER). AER is the rate at which outdoor air replaces indoor air. The industry standards recommend a minimum ventilation rate of 1 cfm per 100-sq. ft. of floor space, plus 7.5 cfm per bedroom.
Better ventilation will always improve indoor air quality. One of the key ingredients for indoor mold growth is a lack of ventilation which increases the chance of condensation of moisture, especially when temperatures are low or if there is air or water leakage of any kind.
The Inspectors Goals
Ventilation is a key factor to controlling air quality. The inspector must be clear, concise, and objective in his findings. The inspector should not make health recommendations or claims. An air quality inspection should be detailed to the conditions of the environment which include ventilation and pipe, roof or foundation leakage. Reports detailing these issues should be given to the client to help solve poor airflow, air quality and maintain air ventilation without compromising heat loss.
Sources: Inspect 4U, InterNACHI, Health Canada