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Improving Indoor Air Quality in Commercial Buildings

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air can be considerably more detrimental to people’s health than outside air. With this in mind, it is important to identify where indoor air contaminants originate and address the possible health effects. To begin with, we can improve indoor air quality

  • Particulate matter
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Secondhand tobacco smoke
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Biological pollutants
    • Mites
    • Allergens
    • Molds
  • Built environment
  • Radon
  • Asbestos
  • Occupation-related contaminants

Schools present an extraordinarily important focus due to the unique vulnerability of children. This is because children inhale more pollutants per kilogram of body weight than adults. Furthermore, with children having narrower airways, indoor pollutants can result in proportionately greater obstruction to airways.

Particle Size

Pollutants travel through the air by multiple means. For instance, particles come in an array of sizes ranging from coarse particles (2.5–10) to fine particles of less than 2.5 micrometers. In particular, the size of particles is a determining factor in which part of the lung receives particle deposits. For this reason, children may be greater affected by the smallest of particles according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, children that reside in urban areas are at greater risk of IAQ due to spending more time indoors than rural children.

Sometimes the negative impact of indoor air quality is caused by the burning of fossil fuels and poor ventilation. Yet other times poor air quality is associated with building materials such as asbestos, formaldehyde, paints, glues, resins, spray propellants, and cleaning agents.

Acute and Chronic effects of air pollutants

Poor indoor air quality can affect people in a variety of ways from mild to severe.


  • Irritation of mucus membranes (eyes, nose, and throat)
  • Cough, wheeze, and chest tightness
  • Increased airway responsiveness to allergens
  • Increased incidence of acute respiratory illness:
  • Tracheobronchitis
  • Exacerbation of asthma


  • Long-term exposure decreases lung growth
  • Impairment of pulmonary function
  • Increased susceptibility to chronic obstructive lung diseases
  • Other

Prevention is the key
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas formed by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. Exposure to this gas can lead to intoxication that results in tissue hypoxia. Breathing high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and weakness. Breathing even low levels can cause fatigue and increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease. Smoke and CO detectors may provide early warning and prevent exposure.


  • Keep fuel-burning appliances in good working condition
  • Check heating systems, chimneys, and vents on a regular basis
  • Never burn charcoal indoors
  • Never leave a car running in a closed garage.
  • Consider CO detectors

Ventilation is Paramount

Finally, one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality is to bring clean fresh air into the building. Of course, this is easily accomplished by the use of a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS). These units work in conjunction with an HVAC unit to bring in fresh room neutral air which also saves energy by helping the HVAC unit run more efficiently. Besides, United CoolAir makes several packaged DOAS units in various tonnages.