ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sustainability 57: Indoor Air Quality

Updated on June 11, 2010
How's your indoor air?
How's your indoor air?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a central concern of many architects and interior designers — and health professionals — in recent years. To achieve truly sustainable design, we must be able to sustain human health, morale and activity in the spaces we create.

As we increasingly inhabit sealed interior spaces within our homes, workplaces, schools, stores, restaurants and hospitals, we increasingly subject ourselves to indoor air that may be of suspect quality. And, as we inhabit ever more global and diverse environments, created using ever-advancing technologies and substances, indoor air quality may become far more difficult for a layperson to ascertain.

Many of us readily recognize apparent and historic contributors to poor air quality — windblown dust and dirt, motor exhaust, smoke, cooking odors, sanitation odors, etc. But none of us can smell radon or carbon monoxide, nor can we see bacteria, fine particulate pollutants, allergens or some molds. We can see neither asbestos particles, nor volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by drying paint or evaporating solvent or aging upholstery fabric. As a result, much of the indoor air we encounter today is a greater health hazard than the outdoor air we encounter.

There are several primary methods of insuring good indoor air quality. Ventilation is most widely used to expel or dilute any harmful substances to safer levels. But, for the so-typical hermetically sealed office building with no operable windows, proper ventilation relies exclusively on the building’s mechanical system components: air filtration, circulation, and fresh air intake and resupply.

Filtration becomes the second line of defense in preserving air quality. As our potential hazards and toxins multiply so too do our filtration materials and methods. Filters are most often incorporated into a building’s mechanical systems.

Source control, however, may be the best of all methods of maintaining air quality, for it targets the likely culprits. We improve indoor air when we specify interior paints and sealants emitting low or no VOCs, and when we specify the proper ceiling tiles, upholstery fabrics, and glues to be used in flooring, laminates and wallcoverings.

To measure a building’s indoor air quality, it becomes necessary to obtain air samples, determine occupant exposure to hazards or toxins, sample building surfaces for target substances, and model indoor air flows and filtration and ventilation methods.

The Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) of Rockville, MD, is a non-profit organization, straddling many disciplines and professions, that promotes the exchange of useful indoor air quality information. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers indoor air quality information and tips to homeowners, schools and businesses through their website and related links.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)