Indoor Air Quality

Australians spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors

Polluted indoor air is a health risk, contributing to problems such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, respiratory problems and eye, nose, throat and skin irritation. In the workplace, this growing occupational hazard has been called ‘sick building syndrome’ and results in poor health for workers and reduced productivity. It has been linked to new or refurbished office buildings with inadequate ventilation.

There are natural sources of indoor air pollution, such as dust mites, pet hair, and mould and fungi. Other indoor air pollutants enter home (or office) via the products we buy. These can fall loosely into two categories:

‘Offgas’ pollutants – One of the main sources of indoor air pollution is new products or paints, particularly those made from synthetic materials, that give off, “offgas” or “outgas” toxic gases called volatile organic compounds (VOC). These include formaldehyde, many solvents, dry-cleaning solvents, benzene and trichloroethylene. A whole range of seemingly innocent products, including carpet, plastics, furniture (particularly those made from particle board or MDF), clothes, books and other printed materials, foam insulation and computer and office equipment; can gradually release significant amounts of VOC. Products that limit the use of VOCs and other potential pollutants will help provide a healthier living and/or working environment.

Toiletries, Pesticides, Paints and Cleaners – There is a reason why many of these products come with safety instructions for their use, such as “wear protective clothing” or “ventilate well”. Some are only harmful to people with skin or respiratory sensitivities. Others are bad for the health of all of us.