Indoor Air Quality – What You Should Know
Based on studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), billions of dollars are spent annually for medication to help Americans breathe or cure their respiratory illnesses. Eleven million Americans have asthma. Twenty-eight million have hay fever and other allergies. Physicians are now discovering that the solution to the problems of many of these people is not in medicine but in reducing the pollutants in the air they breathe.
Every year at least 6,000 new chemical compounds are developed. Many are used indoors every day, at home and at work. Add to these pollutants the mold, mildew, bacteria, viruses, tobacco smoke, grease, pollen, dirt, asbestos, lead and numerous other contaminants that can affect our breathing and our health. Then allow them to circulate in today’s nearly airtight indoor environment. No wonder our indoor air is, on average, two to ten times as polluted as the worst outdoor air.
Viruses and bacteria that thrive in the ducts, coils, and recesses of building ventilation systems have been proven to cause ailments ranging from influenza to tuberculosis. Some HVAC systems have been found to contain up to 27 species of fungi.
Based on information given at the First Annual Air Quality convention sponsored by EPA, April 1992, Tampa, Florida:
- 40% of all buildings pose a serious health hazard due to indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization.
- EPA estimates an 18% annual production loss to American business due to poor indoor air quality.
- 20% of all employees have a major illnessrelated to indoor air pollution such as allergies, asthma, auto-immune diseases, etc.
- EPA says high levels of formaldehyde cause cancer
- Scientists now recognize that pollutants, even at acceptable concentration, combined together in an indoor environment have a synergistic negative effect.
Indoor Air Quality and Ozone
The air we breathe is made up of mostly oxygen and nitrogen. Ozone can be made from common oxygen and high electrical discharge (as in a thunderstorm). The high voltage discharge (also known as corona discharge) breaks the two oxygen (O2) atoms apart. These oxygen atoms are extremely reactive and they recombine in groups of three with the resulting molecule being called Ozone (O3) or trivalent oxygen. When this highly reactive O3 molecule floats in the environment it actively seeks out pollutant molecules. One of the atoms from the O3 molecule will attach itself to the pollutant molecule and destroy it.
This highly reactive quality of ozone is why it is such a powerful and efficient cleaner and purifier. Ozone will react with almost anything, including chemical sources of unpleasant or hazardous indoor odors. Bacteria, mold and mildew, pet odors, many cooking odors, etc., are destroyed when they react with ozone. Like chemical pollutants, the membranes or shells of bacteria contain unsaturated molecules which are destroyed by ozone. Without its protective membrane or shell, the bacterium dies, leaving only oxygen. The same applies to viruses and fungi.
One of the most important properties of ozone is that it has a very short life span. This life span is called a “half-life”. The half-life of ozone is approximately 20-30 minutes. This means that half of the ozone created will break down and return to oxygen in approximately 20-30 minutes depending on temperature, humidity and the amount of contaminants in the air or on surfaces that the ozone has to counteract. In other words, strong odors or pollutants will use more ozone and light odors will require less. If ozone can not find a contaminant to work on, it simply reverts to oxygen.
OZONE and CONTAMINANTS
Ozone can be effective against*:
|Cooking Odors||Garbage Odors||Menthol||Onions|
|Hospital Odors||Sewer Gases||Asphalt Fumes||Butane|
|Aged Manuscripts||Cigarette Smoke||Exhaust Fumes||Food Odors|
|Industrial Wastes||Toluene||Bacteria||Poultry Odors|
|Dead Animals||Gasoline||Fecal Odors||Carbon Monoxide|
|Algae||Acrylic Acid||Bathroom Smells||Propane|
|Lactic Acid||Adhesive Gases||Moth Balls||Furniture Odors|
|Ammonia||Coal Smoke||Benzene||Rancid Oils|
|Diesel Fumes||Carbolic Acid||Fire Odors||Carpet Odors|
|Animal Odors||Ethyl Alcohol||Body Odor||Resins|
|Ether||Anesthetics||Fish Odors||Charred Materials|
|Medicinal Odors||Flood Odors||Nicotine||Burned Food Odors|
* This is only a short list of the things ozone can effect.
Negative Ions Pollutants and Health
Ionization or negative ion generation is often referred to as the “thunderstorm effect”. It is well known that prior to a thunderstorm, animals and even many humans feel nervous, jittery and irritable; however, after the storm there seems to be a feeling of calm. Both animals and humans experience this phenomena. Most people can not explain this renewed sense of well-being. However, there is a logical explanation. All of this is due to the amount of negative ions in the air around us. Prior to a thunderstorm there is a very high concentration of positive ions in the air. These tend to be pollutants such as dust, bacteria, pollen, chemicals, etc. The storm releases electrical discharges consisting of high concentrations of negative ions. Negative ions destroy many of these air pollutants and, therefore, give us a sense of well being. When relatively too many positive ions are present in the air before a storm, the positive charge is transferred in the air you breathe from your lungs to the blood, causing the blood platelets to release a hormone that quite strongly affects your moods, your joints, and other physiological functions in your body.
Ions are floating in the air around us all the time and have either negative or positive charges on them. Changes in their concentration, or in the ratio of positively to negatively charged molecules can have remarkable effects on plants and animals. It is known in science that ion depletion is the source of a wide range of human health problems, both mental and physical. Air ions are important to you because if there are a high proportion of negative ions you will feel lively, uplifted, and enthusiastic. Too many positive ions will have you feeling depressed, lethargic and full of aches, pains and complaints. In general, exposure to negatively ionized air has been shown to increase oxygenation of the lungs, vital capacity, and ciliary activity. All types of beneficial responses take place as a result of these friendly ions. (Effects of Negative Ions)
Fortunately through modern technology it is possible to control the electrical state of our indoor environments by generating negative ions back in the air. These negative ions attach themselves to airborne toxins and drop them to a surface. Ions basically take out the larger pollutants in the air. For example, ozone will take the smell of smoke out of the room and neutralize the chemicals, but will not remove the smoke itself. Negative ions take the smoke out.