Indoor Air quality: Air Conditioning does not always mean clean.

by Naresh Juneja on January 17, 2023

Indoor Air Quality: Air Conditioning does not always mean clean.

 

A SIMPLE EXPERIMENT

June 4, 2021, and I am standing outside a local Coffee shop. We are here to talk to the shop owner about the Air quality. Precisely, how the indoor air quality measures up to the outdoor Air quality.

 I did a small experiment before entering the coffee shop. Took out my Air Quality measuring instrument and checked for the air quality around the shop area. The temperature was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity was at 75 percent, and the AQI reading on my instrument was approximately 38. Decent air quality in the downtown area.

Change of scene, and we are now seated inside the coffee shop. The temperature was controlled at 78 degrees, and the humidity at around 50. The Air quality was at 107, trending towards being poor.

This simple experiment was done to demonstrate the difference in air quality as we spend more and more time indoors. EPA research shows that most people spend almost 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

EPA typically assesses indoor air quality to be 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air quality. Yesterday’s experiment put us at the center of that range, around three times the outdoor levels.

EPA believes that many factors contribute to the deterioration of indoor air quality. Some common factors which are part of our everyday lives are:

  1.       New houses are built to seal in the air conditioning. That also seals in all the contaminants.
  2.       Tobacco products
  3.       Aerosol sprays are used for sanitizing, odor, or other applications.
  4.       Allergens coming from outdoors.
  5.       Pet hair and dirt coming when they move in and out.
  6.       The Central heating and cooling systems and Dehumidifiers
  7.       Building material
  8.       Moisture

A common question I get asked is whether the air conditioning unit can keep the air inside our house clean. After all, that, use HEPA filters and circulate the air.

HOW AIR QUALITY AFFECTS OUR HEALTH: LONG-TERM DAMAGE TO OUR HEALTH

The manifestation of poor air quality tends to reflect on our well-being through many visible and some more long-term, not-so-visible symptoms.

Running nose and itchy eyes or coughing are some most common symptoms. These are symptoms typically associated with allergies and allergens that may be present indoors or outdoors and tend to irritate our nasal passages, eyes, or throat.

Other more serious and long-term effects are now being discovered through medical exposure. The results from pollutants in the air can cause cancer, heart problems, and many other diseases.

 

AIR CONDITIONING FILTERS

Typically, the HEPA filters used in the Air conditioning ducts have MERV ratings between 1 and 8. These filters can trap particles upward of 10 microns.

These filters are neither designed nor function as a possible solution to the problem associated with the most harmful pollutants in the air. The bacteria, the germs, the smoke and other airborne particles less than 10 microns have free reign. These are the particles that cause the most damage to our lungs and our body.

AIR PURIFIERS

In our research and discussions with user groups, the most surprising finding was as follows:

  1.       Almost 80 percent of participants have not given much thought to indoor air quality.
  2.       Almost an equal number never gave this idea thought that they spend 80% of their time indoors.
  3.       Air Purifiers have not been something people have considered important in their homes.
  4.       The knowledge of indoor air quality was significantly better for people suffering from allergies.
  5.       Interestingly, for them changing the filters of the air conditioning system was the only option they entertained.

 

CONCLUSION

Through the discussion we have had with focus groups and talking to people across different spectrums, this was clear to us:

  1.       We will need to educate people on Air quality and how it affects their health.
  2.       Air Conditioners do not improve air quality. The conditioning is more to do with temperature and humidity.
  3.       Air Purifiers are required to keep the air clean.
  4.       Not all HEPA filtration systems are built equal. Understanding what clear air means is essential to good health.

My hope through this effort is that people will find the resources available at www.epa.gov and www.airnow.gov to improve the quality of their lives. The benefits are immense if we just make small changes in our lives.

 

“WE SPECIALIZE IN MAKING YOUR INDOOR AS FRESH AS THE OUTDOOR”

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