Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality

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How Important is Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality?

Air quality is a primary factor in human health. Consider that while humans can endure several days without food or water, breathing toxic air can be fatal within seconds. Back in 1984, for example, in Bhopal, India, the Union Carbide plant located there experienced a major disaster due to a gas leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) that immediately killed 2,259 people. This is considered one of the worst industrial disasters worldwide. This is an extreme example of how important indoor and outdoor air quality is to preserving human life and also human health.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Generally, residences do not have extremes in low air quality indices that industrial and commercial facility may have. Fortunately, indoor air quality can be measured and tested by professionals using air quality tracking devices and air quality monitors and meters. This equipment measures:
. Indoor temperature
. Carbon monoxide
. Carbon dioxide
. Formaldehyde
. Radon
. Humidity

These are part of components found in indoor air. In the state of Florida, indoor air quality should be compared to outdoor air quality due to higher levels of humidity that can produce mold and mildew indoors and out.

In industrial facilities with high levels of production or chemical emissions, indoor air quality testing and/or monitoring is required by state or federal compliance on an annual basis. These facilities submit indoor air quality test results to these agencies for compliance reviews.

There is a difference in testing protocols for indoor air quality for residences and industrial or commercial facilities. In residences, indoor air quality may be compromised due to faulty HVAC equipment, appliances, radon or formaldehyde. Poor indoor air quality in Florida residences may originate from variable sources not found in commercial and industrial facilities.

In industrial and commercial facilities, indoor air is based on the prevalence of regularly used equipment, fluids and additives. For example, in a pharmaceutical testing laboratory, indoor air is tested for several types of gases used in testing protocols for drug components.

In commercial facilities, such as office buildings, indoor air quality may be affected by stockpiling paper for printing devices. In this case, microorganisms in printing paper chemicals may be released into the air and cause skin or lung problems. In production facilities, indoor air can be compromised by emissions from certain regularly produced products.

Outdoor Air Quality

The issue of outdoor air quality has a broader realm of issues due to the fact that outdoor air is a conglomeration of emissions from numerous sources. The method used to test outdoor air quality is to first measure the actual outdoor property to determine where the property lines begin and end. This is done so that when outdoor air quality is tested, originating sources of contaminants are more easily detected.

In some cases, air quality testing professionals may require a modeling sample to gauge the type of emissions being released outdoors. These models tell IAQ professionals the distance the plumes of emissions can travel over a specific period of time. Outdoor air quality testing may be done for a variety of emissions.

Rely on Compliance Enforcement for Clean Air

In urban areas, carbon monoxide might be a major emission released into outdoor air. However, several types of dust, petrochemical, electric and gas from production facilities also reduce outdoor air quality. This is usually remediated through the use of air monitoring devices and detectors that use electronic indicators.  In Florida, the Florida Health Department enforces the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA) to ensure indoor and outdoor air quality remain in compliance and do not jeopardize residents’ health.

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