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Common Indoor Air Pollution Sources By Industry

Posted by: IotaComm

To be sure, public awareness about indoor air quality is growing. And it’s no wonder—with some studies showing that indoor air may be more polluted than outdoor air, information about indoor air pollution sources and causes is now becoming more readily available.

As a facilities manager, it’s important to be familiar with common indoor air pollutants, as well as the effects they have on people, in an effort to combat them and maintain a healthier building environment. Below are a few of the common indoor air pollution sources for various industries—but note that this should not be considered a complete list.

Then, take a look here to learn how to test the air in your own building and ways to improve indoor air quality. (For more specific information on indoor air pollution causes and effects, visit the EPA’s comprehensive site.)

[bctt tweet=”As a facilities manager, it’s important to be familiar with common indoor air pollutants in order to combat them.” username=”iotacomm”]

Common Indoor Air Pollution Sources By Industry

Office Buildings
Pollutant Source
Particulate matter (PM)
  • Laser printers
  • Radiators
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Cigarettes
  • Cooking
  • Outdoor sources
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Cleaning agents
  • Fresheners
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Disinfectants
  • Carpeting
  • Copy machines
  • Printers
  • Upholstery
  • Manufactured wood products
  • Paint
  • Pesticides
Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Generators
  • Poorly maintained boilers or furnaces
  • Automobile exhaust from nearby idling vehicles

Ask us how you can test your building’s indoor air quality and improve your ventilation at the same time.

Manufacturing Facilities
Pollutant Source
Particulate matter (PM)
  • Glass melting furnace
  • Oil furnace carbon black manufacture
  • Combustion of solid mineral fuels, liquid fuels, & biomass
  • Coal fires
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Paint supplies, varnishes, wax
  • Automotive products
  • Glues/adhesives
  • Aerosol spray paint
  • Fuel combustion/stored fuels
  • Chemical production
  • Petroleum refining
  • Metals production
Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Small gasoline engines
  • Portable gas-powered generators
  • Power washers
  • Forklifts
  • Fuel-burning furnaces
Healthcare Facilities
Pollutant Source
Particulate matter (PM)
  • Hospital waste incinerators
  • Diesel generators
  • Nearby outdoor sources
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Formaldehyde disinfectant
  • Cleaning agents
  • Laparoscopic surgery “smoke”
  • Carpeting/furniture in long-term care facilities
Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Hospital waste incinerators
  • Emergency generators (diesel-fired, natural gas-fired, propane-fired)
  • Boilers
  • Automobiles idling near entrances
Nitrogen oxide
  • Boilers
  • Diesel generators
Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)
  • Ethylene oxide sterilizers
Anaesthetic gases
  • General anaesthesia
Beyond Pollutants: Two Additional Factors That Influence Indoor Air Quality

Aside from the pollutants themselves, air quality inside a building can also be impacted by these two other factors:

  1. Ventilation—One of the main contributors to poor indoor air is a poorly designed, maintained, or operated ventilation system. Ventilation systems not only help heat and cool the air, but also pull in and circulate outside air. Sometimes, in an effort to save energy, ventilation systems are prevented from pulling in enough outdoor air to maintain an appropriate, healthful balance. Many facilities managers are now implementing demand control ventilation systems that help save energy (and therefore reduce operating costs) while still maintaining adequate air quality for occupants.
  2. Outdoor Air—The air drawn in from outside may also be a potential source of pollution, depending on where the building is located. Nearby construction sites, emergency generators, dumpsters, industrial stacks, and power plants are all likely to produce contaminants that will affect the indoor air quality of your building in a negative way.
Schools
Pollutant Source
Particulate matter (PM)
  • Laser printers
  • Radiators
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Cooking
  • Nearby outdoor sources
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Cleaning agents
  • Carpeting/furniture
  • Formaldehyde from building materials and furnishings
  • Paints, glues, art materials
  • Science storerooms
  • Newly painted surfaces
Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Idling school buses
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Poorly vented indoor combustion sources such as gas heaters and appliances
Lead
  • Lead-based paint
Mold
  • Leaky roofs
  • Soiled or water-damaged materials
  • High humidity

In addition to all of the above, asbestos and radon are also dangerous indoor air pollutants that could be present in a building. It’s also worth noting your building’s so-called “special use areas”—like loading docks, parking garages, laboratories, smoking lounges, and even kitchenettes—as possible causes of indoor air pollution.

Interested in testing your building’s indoor air quality?

Testing indoor air quality isn’t as complicated—or as costly—as you think. Iota offers a line of IoT sensors that allow you to remotely monitor your building’s indoor environment for many of the air pollutants mentioned above, in addition to other air quality characteristics like temperature and humidity levels. We’ll also help you decipher the data, and offer recommendations about ways you can minimize pollutants and improve your building’s overall air quality, no matter what industry your building serves. To find out more about Iota’s indoor air quality monitoring system and how it might work for you, contact us—we’d love to help.

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