Many people in industrialized countries spend 90% of their time indoors.
Against this background, it is a major concern to ensure interior environmental air quality and to eliminate harmful concentrations of particulate contaminants, unwanted odors and unhealthy gases.
“In designing and manufacturing truly remarkable air filters for consumer applications, such as air purifiers and vacuum cleaners, we could not be any closer to our company mission of 'providing solutions to improve the quality of life'.” Dr. Andreas Kreuter, CEO
We tend to think of air pollution as something outside – smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be five times more polluted than the air outside. Air pollution is inside your home and workplace, but you can’t always see it.
The air inside a home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire retardants, radon, and even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners. In addition, some pollutants arrive via a new mattress or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a coat of paint on the walls. In that mix, you'll also find microscopic dust mites (a major allergen), mold and heaps of pet dander. Pet owners carry it around on their clothes and shed it throughout the day. You can't get away from it, even if you don't have a pet. Children, people with asthma, and the elderly may be especially sensitive to indoor pollutants, but other health effects may appear years later after repeated exposure.
As for air pollution in offices, it is well known that photocopiers and laser printers emit chemicals like ozone, solvents or toner dust. Pollutants arise from the materials used for their operation (toner, ink, paper) and the special printing technology used. During printing and photocopying, complex chemical and physical processes occur during which the toner and paper react under the influence of light and high temperatures. Moreover, particles and dust can also adversely affect the performances of office devices. For instance, the particles in the air may influence the effect a video projector and reduce service life.
One of the challenges that we face when talking about indoor air pollution is that we do not see those harmful particles and gases because they are so tiny. We have created a list of some of the most important indoor pollutants.
Particulate Matter (PM)
Small and tiny particles that float in the atmosphere for a while and do not immediately fall. These particles are divided into groups according to size. Particulate matter is harmful to health. This is true as much for increased concentrations over a short period of time as for low level exposure over a longer period. For this reason, we should aim to minimize exposure to particulate pollution at all times.
An organic chemical that is very prevalent in our environment. It is a colorless gas compound with a pungent odor from a family of gases called aldehydes. It is a sensitizing agent that can cause an immune system response upon initial exposure. It is also a suspected human carcinogen that is linked to nasal cancer and lung cancer. Formaldehyde exposure is most common through gas-phase inhalation. Airborne concentrations of formaldehyde above 0.1 ppm can cause irritation of the respiratory tract.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
Organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful VOCs typically are not acutely toxic but do have compounding long-term health effects. Because concentrations are usually low and symptoms slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult.
Odors are the human body’s olfactory perception a particular chemical or chemical mixtures. These odorous chemicals come from mold, bacteria, sewer gases, decomposing rodents or their waste, combustion gas fumes (car or furnace), and pets (to name a few of the common sources). These certainly affect indoor environmental quality problems in buildings. Some chemicals (at low concentrations) can be health hazards even before they are detected by the nose, while others are irritating at relatively high concentrations but not a health hazard for most people (people with environmental or chemical sensitivities may have health effects at very low concentrations of many chemicals). Although most chemical contaminants originate from within the building, chemicals can be drawn into a building from the outdoors as well.
Molds and other allergens. Around 30% of the world’s population suffers from allergies. Approximately 86% of all allergy sufferers are allergic to pollen. During times of high pollen concentrations, allergies can manifest themselves in the form of colds, swollen nasal membranes, sneezing attacks and watery eyes, adversely affecting the lives of sufferers.