In a 2016 report on indoor air quality, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment reflected that Australians spend 90% or more of their time indoors.
This percentage is probably unsurprising as we spend most of our time either working in offices or resting at home. While you may be attuned to the indoor temperature, what you probably don’t realise is the number of pollutants that linger in the air.
Such pollutants, more often than not, come from indoor sources.Formaldehyde gas pollutant is emitted from products that contain formaldehyde-based resins such as particleboard, a widely used building material. Another pollutant example is volatile organic compounds (VOCs), released by common household materials such as paints and cleaning products. With low ventilation rates in many of our interior spaces, especially those in high rise buildings, these pollutants are often trapped indoors.
In Australia, a 1998 report by Dr Brown of the CSIRO Building Construction and Engineering estimated that indoor air pollutants are costing us around $12 billion each year due to illnesses and subsequently underperformance. In fact, a later study by The World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation concluded that household air pollutants cost the world’s economy $255 billion in lost labour income and $5.11 trillion in welfare losses. So what can we do to reduce indoor air pollutants?