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[Excerpt] “Indoor air quality or IAQ” is what we experience as the temperature, humidity, ventilation, and chemical or biological contaminants of the air inside non-industrial buildings, such as schools, offices, hotels, or banks – environments typically considered pristine when compared with industrial settings. In today’s world, we spend about 90% of our day indoors and the pollution indoors can be 2 to 5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times -- higher than outdoor levels. After all, we humans exhale (and otherwise produce) the endproducts of metabolism. We shed hair and dander. We have in our buildings all kinds of textiles, equipment, paper, cleaning products, and maintenance activities – so the air can be very different from “fresh outside air.” We notice this difference – sometimes simply as odors and sometimes as symptoms such as:

• irritation of eyes, nose, or throat

• dry mucous membranes and skin

• erythema – reddening or flushing of the face or skin

• mental fatigue, headache, sleepiness

• airway infections, cough

• hoarseness, wheezing

• nausea, dizziness

• hypersensitivity reactions.

Studies of buildings have indicated that poor IAQ can cause health problems, affect occupants’ productivity and reduce learning, as well as have liability issues and cause poor public relations – a building gets a bad reputation which affects leasing and purchasing.


Required Publisher Statement
© Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Recommended Citation
Brown, N. J. (2019). Indoor air quality [Electronic version]. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Workplace Health and Safety Program.