Today, most people spend around 90 percent of their time indoors. Yet our indoor air pollution is anywhere from two to five times higher than what is found outside. Unfortunately, there are several ways that poor indoor air quality costs you both at home and at work.
In one study, participants worked in a room with and without 20-year-old carpet known to release volatile organic compounds. When researchers removed the carpet, the subjects showed a 4 percent improvement in their accuracy and speed while typing. A different study showed a significant increase in typing errors in spaces with CRT monitors. Other research has shown performance improvements with increased fresh air flow in the work space, despite the fact that participants in these studies were unaware of the poor air quality and made no complaints about it.
Along with loss of productivity, poor indoor air quality might also lead to missed work days. Between medical care and absenteeism, poor air quality costs the United States economy as much as $168 billion a year. The CDC reports that those who suffer from sinus infections miss around four days of work every year, and the American Lung Association believes that adults miss around 14.5 million work days because of asthma. Not only is this costly for businesses, if you don't have enough paid sick days to cover your time away from work, it hurts your finances as well.
It's not just office workers who experience issues related to poor indoor air quality. Students also suffer if the indoor air quality in schools is harmful. Substandard air can lead to asthma attacks, which takes students out of the classroom and away from lessons. Additionally, one study compared test scores between students in a well-ventilated classroom and a classroom with less ventilation. Students with better air ventilation scored up to 15 percent higher on standardized tests.
Around 20 percent of people in the United States suffer from allergies, and it's the sixth leading cause of chronic disease. Additionally, around 20 million people now suffer from asthma. This equals more trips to the doctor to control these chronic conditions and higher medical bills. However, by using products that can help improve the indoor air quality in your home, such as air filters, UV lamps, and a HVAC ventilation system, you can correct common air problems and lessen the need for frequent doctor visits.
One often overlooked problem from poor indoor air quality is how it affects the overall strength of a building. Excessive moisture plays a large role in indoor air quality. Moisture creates the ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can grow so much they weaken the support system of a building and harm its structural integrity.
From higher medical bills to lower productivity, poor indoor air quality plays is a potentially costly problem. Improving your indoor air quality can actually end up saving you money, as well as improving your health.