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Indoor air quality: 5 shocking facts you should know

10/23/23 4 min reading time Fine dust & coarse

Believe it or not, but indoor air quality is often worse than the air outside. Multiple studies have found this to be true. Learn more about how indoor air becomes polluting, and why indoor air quality testing is so important.

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Indoor air quality: The true pollution problem

Pop quiz: Is your indoor air quality better or worse than the air you might breathe in a busy city? 

If you think the indoor air is cleaner, you're in good company. Many people incorrectly believe that the air inside is cleaner than the smoggy outdoor air, polluted by traffic and industrial plants and other pollution emitters. 

However, if you were to run indoor air quality testing at your workplace, you may find what many studies have shown: the air indoors can be just as polluted, if not more so, than the air outside. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that millions of people die prematurely from indoor air pollution every year, from illnesses like lung cancer, stroke, and COPD.

Let's set the record straight on indoor air quality, and uncover 5 shocking facts about inside air that may inspire you to run air quality testing at your workplace. 

5 facts about indoor air quality that will take your breath away

1. Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality

We've already mentioned this, but it bears repeating. Studies on indoor air quality testing results show that the air inside is often more polluted than what's outside, even in highly industrialized areas.

One study, on Clean Air Day, noted that average pollution was 3.5 times higher indoors than outdoors. This is particularly alarming when you consider that people spend on average 90 % of their lives indoors.

2. Indoor air pollution poses enormous health risks 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. In other words, the air you're breathing at work may be one of the biggest threats to your well-being, if it's not being properly cleansed. 

Mold, chemicals, dust, viruses  all of these unwanted particles may be polluting the air you're taking into your lungs at work every day. 

3. Dust: The invisible threat 

Sometimes you can see pollutants in the air, but many of the most harmful particles are invisible to the naked eye, making them all the more threatening. Dust and other tiny pollutants float in the air and come to rest on the machinery, floors and equipment in your facility. Any air movement even if it's just people walking by – can stir up dust, causing us to breathe them in again. In time, indoor air pollution can become a very serious health hazard. 

4. A multitude of health problems 

The list of health issues caused by poor indoor air quality is long, and it goes well beyond mild symptoms like headaches and irritated throats. Indoor air pollution can cause worsen asthma symptoms and lead to flu symptoms as well. When fine air particles enter the bloodstream, things get much more serious – this can lead to clogged arteries, which increase the risk of heart attacks. In some cases, indoor air pollution can even lead to cancer. 

5. There are fewer regulations for indoor air pollution 

The EPA and other governing bodies have strict regulations about outdoor air pollution, but there are far fewer rules when it comes to indoor air quality. Though your workplace may meet minimum standards for the air they put out, it's still possible they are doing little to regulate the air you breathe every day. We need more indoor air quality testing and better hygiene regulations, particularly in industries like food and beverage or pharmaceuticals, where low indoor air quality standards can have serious consequences. The biggest issue about indoor air quality is that it degrades over time – and the same can be said for the health of employees working in polluted spaces. 

What can you do about indoor air quality at your company?

Perhaps reading these facts about indoor air quality is making you wonder whether you're safe at work. Unfortunately, you very well could be right - given the statistics, there's a relatively high chance you and your fellow workers are breathing in polluted indoor air. But don't worry – there are many ways to mitigate this issue and literally clear the air. 

Take a deep breath with Zehnder at your side

Zehnder Clean Air Solutions is known around the world for improving indoor air quality at a multitude of businesses. We'd love to help keep you and your staff safe, happy, healthy, and productive. 

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