'Sick building syndrome' leads to a variety
of sympton, but cause are up in the air

IAQ has become one of the leading environmental issues of the '90's. Studies have shown that the concentrations of hazardous of pollutants are often many times higher indoors than out-of-doors. Why is there a problem with the quality of the air? As construction method responded to the increasing costs of energy, modem buildings have reduced levels of "leakage" or "infiltration of fresh air.

Buildings with tighter construction are more energy efficient to operate. This energy efficiency comes with a trade-off, less fresh air in the building. Reductions in fresh air exchanges result in a building with "stale" air. The chemicals present in the building and gases produced by the furnishings and contents are no longer diluted by fresh air. The level of purity, and quality of the air has become reduced.

IAQ problems are multi-faceted and require solutions and skills in many areas. Cleaning and maintenance of the floors and capering is just the beginning. The March of 1993 issue of PCJ took an in-depth look at ceiling and wall cleaning. Contractors offering this service are experiencing a "wave of growth". This service removes the pollutants and by products from the interior surfaces that are present in buildings with a poor IAQ environment. PCJ July 1993 looked at the care and cleaning of blinds and other window treatments, another service to remove the pollutants from surfaces of the building's interior.

All these cleaning services improve the quality level of the indoor environment, but what about the air duct system. As stated earlier, the air duct system is the "lungs" of the building. Cleaning all surfaces of the interior space without cleaning the air duct system would be like "putting a clean sock on a dirty Foot". The air duct system will simply recontaminate the newly cleaned areas it recirculates air within the building.

Indoor air quality is the environmental issue of the 90's. The USEPA has ranked poor IAQ as one of the highest risks to human health among all types of environmental problems. In fact, according to studies conducted by EPA, NIOSH and others, the average measured levels of many hazardous pollutants may be as much as 100 times higher in indoor air then in the air outside.

The World Health Organization has estimated that 30% of all buildings experience IAQ problems. These problems are especially prevalent in tight, energy-efficient buildings where a high percentage of recalculated air is utilized. According to the highly respected Journal of American Medical Association: "the risk of respiratory infection is 45% higher among occupants of energy efficient buildings."

See Figures
Enlarged samples taken by microscope from top to buttom: Bacterium, Fungi, Dust Mites and
. These pollutants can circulate freely through the air ducts and air conditioning system,
which are poorly or improperly maintained. 42,000 dust mites can be found in 1 ounce of dust.


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