Indoor air quality is a significant contributing factor to people’s overall health. It is especially important to control this aspect in the facilities for preschool and primary school children because their health is more fragile than adults’ and many vital functions of their bodies are in the process of development. Therefore, a poor indoor air quality can have long-term consequences for children’s health. Among the primary factors affecting indoor air quality are ventilation and air conditioning systems, presence of molds and fungus as well as pests, chemicals, and different kinds of activities done indoors.
At first sight, outdoor environment seems the most important aspect for creating proper indoor conditions. However, even the polluted areas can provide high indoor air quality in case they follow a number of recommendations. The caretakers of the premises should make sure to eliminate all sources of contamination such as chemicals, pests, mold, and fungus, install adequate air cleaning technologies and maintain a comfortable temperature and humidity indoors.
In order to have high indoor air quality, the buildings should be equipped with good ventilation and air conditioning systems. The main reasons behind the poor air are environmental pollution and chemicals. Therefore, even if the premises are located in the area with high levels of vehicle emissions and industrial pollutants, its harmful effects can be eliminated or limited to a great extent by a powerful air cleansing systems. Additionally, another source of unpleasant odors is dumpsters. They are not as much dangerous as irritating and unpleasant. The biggest negative effect they can have is irritation and watering of eyes and throat, as well as headache and nausea. Thus ventilation becomes one of the most important factors determining indoor air quality.
Besides, the activities carried out within the premises can contribute to the contamination of indoor air. For example, building maintenance can result in a large amount of airborne dust, dirt and volatile particles from constructional materials. Additionally, in case of long-lasting construction works, emissions from stored building materials can worsen the air quality. Furthermore, personal habits of the employees such as smoking, body odor, and cosmetic smells can cause the irritation and nausea in the people on the premises (NIOSH 6).
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Another important aspect for good air quality is the absence of fine particles in the air such as dust and powder that can also be ensured by installing powerful air conditioning system. Particles of different size can come from nearby construction sites, intensive-traffic highways, industrial factories, as well as from indoor activities such as cooking or heating. The air ventilation should be calibrated in such a way to get rid of the finest particles which can be as small as nanoparticles and affect people’s respiratory and cardiovascular systems (Green Facts).
Another factor that often impacts on air quality is the presence of fungi and molds. Together with high humidity, they can cause allergies and asthma in people of various ages. Besides, high humidity forms a favorable environment for spreading of viruses and bacteria that can lead to different respiratory diseases. However, too dry air is also not beneficial for human health. The dryness of the air causes the problem of dry skin and irritation of eyes and throat (Green Facts).
Additionally, appropriate premises should be pests-free. This includes not only animals such as mice, rats, stray cats and dogs, but also various insects which are the sources of diseases from the viewpoint of hygiene. Indeed, they are carriers of infections and can transmit illnesses such as lichen. In relation to the air quality, the traces of vital activities of pests and stray animals as well as their fur are the source of allergies and can cause the onset of asthma and rhinitis (Green Facts).
A good ventilation system can control a large number of the factors affecting indoor air quality. For example, one of the methods of ensuring an absence of chemicals and contaminants is the compounding of indoor air with outdoor air. If the ventilation system is able to purify and evenly distribute outdoor air as well as let out the used indoor air, it means that it is effective and does its work perfectly.
Another important quality of the good ventilation system is its ability to control pressure in all the interior space of the building. The difference between the used air and the supplied air is called the positive and negative pressure. The balance among them should be maintained because in case of imbalance drafts occur. They let dust and dirt enter the premises which disrupts the comfortable environment.
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The last method to make the ventilation system function with the highest efficiency is the usage of exhaust systems that take the used air out and do not let it back even in a purified form. It is used in the premises with high concentrations of chemicals and others contaminants such as kitchens, bathrooms, storages with chemicals, and other. (NIOSH 9).
Initially, the question of good air quality should be raised and considered at the stage of a building design when airflow patterns can be projected and built appropriately. On this phase, premises should be seen as a whole “air distribution system” where the movements of people and the opening and shutting of doors, partitions, and windows, as well as other connections between the rooms such as chases, corridors, stairways, elevator shafts contribute to the distribution of air. The thing is that air moves not only by airflow shafts designed for it and by air conditioning and ventilation chutes. When people move they also cause pollutants such as dust and fine particles move (NIOSH 9).