Outdoor Air vs. Indoor Air

You’ve read about the dangerous levels of air pollution in Asia, right? Well, the air you’re breathing in probably isn’t much better.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of the global population breathe in polluted air, which is estimated to cause seven million deaths each year. 

Europe isn’t immune -- despite various clean air acts having substantially decreased emissions of many air pollutants over the past few decades, many parts of the continent still fail to meet air quality standards. The European Environment Agency’s European Air Quality Index shows a considerable number of areas rated poor, very poor and in some cases extremely poor. 

Abundant populations - contributing to the release of harmful fumes through vehicle use, heating, and smoking, as well as industrial and business activities - considerably impact outdoor air quality in big cities.

If your workplace is surrounded by skyscrapers and busy streets, you’re probably breathing in unhealthy amounts of nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ground-level ozone - the three pollutants recognised as the most damaging to human health.

Now for the bad news… 

Outdoor air pollution doesn’t wait for you to invite it in.

In fact, indoor air is usually up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and in some cases studies have found levels up to 100 times greater.

Whether the quality of air inside your home or office is one times or 1,000 times worse, any difference is a cause for concern. Given that most of us spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, you’re likely spending a considerable amount of time in environments that expose you to harmful air.

Bad quality air can enter buildings through open doors and windows, or cracks and holes that go unrepaired. However, many pollutants actually originate from sources inside your home and office.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-based chemicals with high vapor pressure. They’re also emitted from various everyday products, such as cigarettes and deodorants. 

Depending on the materials used to manufacture them, VOCs might even be released by the desk that you’re working on and chair that you’re sitting in. These chemicals, linked with a variety of health effects from headaches to nervous system damage, are released every time you use the office printer too. So while sitting nearby the office equipment might make you more efficient, it could also be costing you your health.

So what can you do about it?

While wind and heat do a great job of dispersing pollutants in outdoor air, shifting indoor pollutants takes considerably more effort on your part.

By showing an interest in AERIC’s air quality monitors, you’ve already taken the first step towards improving the quality of air that you breathe in each day.

Monitoring air quality, given the impact it can have on your health, isn’t all that different to watching your weight or checking for lumps and bumps on your body. Keeping a watch over metrics such as CO2, VOCs, and particulate matter can help to address any air quality issues in your office as they arise.

From knowing when to open and close windows depending on outdoor pollution levels, to installing vital air purifiers and dehumidifiers, small changes can lead to drastic improvements that will help you to leave work each day both healthier and happier.