Many of us believe that when the quality of the air outdoors is poor, staying indoors is always the best and the healthiest decision.
But, does staying inside protect you from air pollution?
In this webinar, “Knowledge to Action: Learning The Value, Impacts, and Benefits of Maintaining Better Indoor Air Quality”, we dive into the clearer meaning of indoor air quality, its importance, its connection to sustainability, and its impact on human health, on the environment, and on businesses. Also tackled in this session are some of the effective innovations and methods to manage the air we breathe indoors.
Impacts of Better Air Quality on Sustainability
Athalie Reyes, Sustainability and Environment Professional
First up, one of industry leaders and this session’s speaker, Athalie Reyes, provides a vivid definition of sustainability: the idea that goods and services should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment.
Athalie also present the main pillars of sustainability namely:
- Human Capital which focuses on health and education systems, access to services, nutrition, knowledge and skills
- Social Capital which accommodates a larger view of the world in relation to cultures, communities, and globalization. Social capital is being addressed by establishing laws, developing and disseminating information and shared knowledge about equality and rights.
By focusing on the social capital, we are able to preserve future generations and we fully understand that everything that we do can have an impact on others.
- Financial Capital supports long-term economic growth, improvements on quality of life, and the efficient use of assets to maintain profitability over time.
- Natural Capital this is the most common topic being heard during conversations about sustainability. This focuses on meeting the needs of the population without compromising the needs of the future generations
These pillars are mutually dependent on each other, one can’t be sustainable without addressing the other pillars. These are also consistent with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
What are the effects of poor indoor air quality on these four pillars?
On human capital: poor indoor air quality can cause building-related illnesses including ear, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigues. Stale IAQ can also have long-term and more serious health consequences such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. Athalie shared with us some effective solutions such as buying and using eco-friendly products, selecting building materials and furniture that are less toxic, and choosing paints, solvents, sealants, and cleaning products that do not release harmful gasses such as VOCs.
On financial capital: the illnesses acquired from poor IAQ can lead to poor productivity, lower efficiency of cooling and heating systems, higher energy cost, building and equipment deterioration which increase the number of renovations and repairs. Athalie recommended adopting green design and concept, indoor air quality monitoring, optimizing IAQ conditions, efficient use of assets, and predictive/preventive maintenance.
On social capital: the inability of businesses and organizations to address issues on IAQ can have a bad effect on the reputation of the company, liabilities to laws specific to occupational health and safety, and the failure to provide the rights of employees to work in a safer environment. The need to establish and comply with procedures, policies, and laws, raising awareness, and an effective grievance/feedback mechanism are the solutions recommended to address the potential impacts of IAQ on social sustainability.
On natural capital: Some materials and cleaning chemicals emit greenhouse gasses which can cause ozone depletion and climate change. To address these, the adoption of renewable energy sources and monitoring of energy and operational efficiency are recommended.
To close the topic, Athalie Reyes shared attendees the sustaining solutions for sustainability:
Risks and Impacts
Do: Programs, Procedures
Act: Continuing actions
Objectives corrective actions
A Comprehensive Guide to Indoor Air quality and the Ways to Improve it Using Air Quality Sensors
Miriam Chacón Mateos
Research Scientist, Department of Flue Gas Cleaning and Air Quality Control, University of Stuttgart
Miriam Chacón Mateos walked us through the most common air pollutants indoors such as particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5, and ultrafine particulate matter) carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and biogenic aerosols such as viruses. These indoor air pollutants can come from:
- Air pollution outdoors
- Indoor activities such as cooking, frying, and toasting
- Building materials
- Cleaning chemicals
- High levels of humidity
Miriam also highlighted some impacts of indoor air pollution on human health
Src: European Respiratory Journal
Miriam is a research scientist in the University of Stuttgart and part of her research was measuring nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in patients with COPD and asthma. Miriam shared during the discussion the strategies in collecting IAQ data including the installation of air quality monitors both indoors and outdoors, collection of NO2 samples, and requesting patients to answer environmental and symptomatic questionnaires.
The research has shown that PM levels are high and continue to increase during activities such as cleaning, cooking, illuminating scented candles and when the patient’s location has visitors.
To close the topic, Miriam Chacón Mateos left important key points:
- Indoor air quality is a major determinant of personal exposure to pollutants in today’s world
- Recent advances in sensing technology enable real-time monitoring of indoor environments.
- Data is only powerful if it leads to action: take control of the air you breathe!
This 60-minute super-sized webinar organized by uHoo aims to educate business leaders and all individuals on the importance of indoor air quality and to empower them to take action towards a healthier and safer world for everyone. Watch this webinar on-demand now!