Indoor Air Quality and Public Places
Public places like schools and offices have a social responsibility to make sure that no one gets health problems when people are in their premises. Pollutants are a big problem when it comes to public places, especially on the subject of air quality.
According to research, tobacco smoking is the highest cause of poor air quality. The smoke contains hundreds of chemicals that can become airborne. Polluted air can easily harm people because a foul-smelling air is not the only basis for a contaminated air (i.e. odourless air could have dangerous heavy metal content without you knowing it). The government and health organizations recognize the risk of poor air quality that is why they have programs to help decrease and eliminate air pollutants.
Air can easily get polluted by different chemicals, bacteria, and other particles that may irritate the skin, tissues around the eyes and nasal cavity, and the lungs. The kinds and the amount of pollutants an air gets is usually dependent on the area or the activities taking place in the area (e.g. chemical plants, mining, electronics, etc.). However, there are 6 common indoor pollutants found in most homes and indoor public places, such as:
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Carbon Monoxide(CO)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Formaldehyde (HCHO)
- Mold, Bacteria, Yeast and Fungus (biological factors)
- Lead, Asbestos, and other chemicals found in products.
Given our vulnerability to inhale or get in contact with common pollutants, the government and federal agencies are working together to implement programs that promote good air quality. Here are some of the programs and groups that are geared at promoting and achieving clean air quality.
- Lead Enforcement Agency – a group responsible for research and policy making regarding lead use in products.
- Product Labeling/Use Restriction – full disclosure of chemicals and its harmful effects in different consumer products.
- Accidental Fire – implementation of proper notification to consumers, workers, and local fire departments of toxic fumes and flammable chemicals in the event of a fire.
- Building Codes – cooperates with different organizations regarding the inspection of hazardous building materials and promotes less harmful alternatives. They are also involved in designing the best ventilation systems and use the latest technology to ensure that air quality is always at its best.
- Lead Removal – an organization responsible for certifying lead removal contractors.
- Building Operation and Maintenance Standards – responsible for policies regarding proper building operation and maintenance for HVAC systems to ensure good air quality.
- Smoke-Free Public Places – implements federal prohibitions on tobacco smoking in all indoor public places like trains, buses, commercial flights, workplace, and other places considered as public place. The program includes rules on strict sales and marketing policies for tobacco companies.
- Indoor Air Monitoring – an agency responsible for monitoring air quality in buildings and offices that are reported of having poor air quality.