When we complain about pollution and how it holds the potential to affect our health, we are usually referring to the air we breathe outdoors. However, it should be noted the quality of our indoor environment is often more polluted than outdoor air.
During UAE summers, residents experience an increased number of health related complaints, often attributing air-conditioning as the cause. The reason may be poor indoor air quality, indoor lighting, views, and even thermal comfort — all have a direct impact on human health.
This approach to the total indoor environment is called the Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) and the rating system attached to it can guide specially trained personnel to improve your home or office IEQ.
UAE residents spend 80 percent of their time indoors, irrespective of the weather. Furthermore, the Middle East provides the perfect breeding conditions for many indoor environment impurities due to the extreme temperatures and humidity, poor indoor air quality due to almost continuous use of air conditioning, double glazed windows that prevent direct UV sun light penetration (which is the world’s original natural disinfectant) and frequent sand storms and/or surrounding construction dust.
Clinically speaking, an individual living under such circumstances is repeatedly exposed to indoor air pollutants as Indoor Air is typically two to five times more polluted than Outdoor Air!
Dr. Johannes C. van Dijk; “The lifestyle in the UAE is typical for allergies, sinusitis, hay fever as well as asthma and there are now well-defined areas where dust mites and dander are each the strongest contributors to asthma risk. Indoor allergens, such as dust mites, are also more important in the pathogenesis of allergic airway disease than others.” — Dr. Johannes C. van Dijk, General Practitioner, Medi Clinic
Though products and materials inside a house may pose hazards, the biggest contributor to decreased indoor air quality is the mattress you sleep on. It is one of the biggest breeding places for impurities and micro-organisms. A person spends one third of his or her life sleeping which provides a lot of exposure to dust mites, bed bugs, mold and fungi. The most concerning fact is that at any given time there are 2 million dust mites living in a mattress and they reproduce by feeding on a human’s dead skin flakes and sweat that seeps through the mattress while sleeping at night.
Dr. Johannes C. van Dijk; “By minimizing upholstery and fabric reservoirs in the environment of the dust mite allergic person and using a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter in the areas where the person spends most of his or her time, like the bedroom, lower allergen levels and a clinical improvement will be noticed. It’s also important to minimize the use of chemical cleaning products as this also effects the air quality that is inhaled.”
See these related links for more information and downloadable PDF’s:
- CDC – Indoor Air Quality Fact Sheet
- World Health Organization – Indoor Air Quality
- EPA – Indoor Air Quality and Climate Readiness
- EPA – Indoor Air Quality Publications and Resources
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Indoor Air Quality
- Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Indoor Air Quality Publications
- Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers
- Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory – Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank
Specific Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) topics:
|Dampness and Mould in Buildings||Building Ventilation|
|Construction and Renovation||Chemicals and Odors|