What is Acceptable Indoor Air Quality?
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was founded in 1894. This building technology society focuses on building systems, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality. Known as ASHRAE, this group publishes well-recognized standards and guidelines relating to HVAC systems and indoor air quality which engineers, mechanical contractors, architects and government agencies draw upon.
ASHRAE defines acceptable indoor air quality as: “air toward which a substantial majority of occupants express no dissatisfaction with respect to odor and sensory irritation and in which there are not likely to be contaminants at concentrations that are known to pose a health risk.”
So, how is UNACCEPTABLE or ACCEPTABLE Indoor Air Quality determined? Sometimes it is quite easy . . . if the home reeks of cat urine, smells musty from mold, smells of gas fumes, or the walls feel damp with moisture, the indoor air quality is obviously unacceptable. Where it gets tricky is identifying the causes of symptoms such as headaches, nausea or runny nose that appear to be building-related. And, then there are the dangerous contaminants that can only be identified to specialized testing, such as radon or carbon dioxide.
Things that impact the quality of our indoor air could be radon gas, pets, cigarette smoking, gas from gas ranges, off-gases from portable propane heaters, moisture, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, lead dust, ozone, allergens, dust, pollen and odors. Most factors that lead to poor indoor air quality can be identified and addressed through regularly scheduled home assessments and proper home maintenance performed by the home owner. Specialized testing usually requires a certified or licensed individual to perform.
Acceptable indoor air quality leads to a healthier environment and healthy lives for the home or building occupant. A once a year inspection of your property can not only improve the health of your home, but the health of those who share the home.