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All About Indoor Air Quality

       According to statistics data, every Taiwanese spends on average approximately 80~90% of their day indoors (including inside their homes, offices, or other buildings). The level of indoor air quality directly affects work quality and efficiency. As a result, impacts of indoor air pollutants on people’s health should be studied thoroughly. Only with effective improvements on indoor air quality will people’s health be protected.

       In recent years, topics related to harm that indoor air might bring to people’s health have become gradual concerns of everyone. Especially as people’s lifestyles have changed over the years, while people have been staying in airtight living or office space and enjoying the comfort and convenience of air-conditioning, “Sick Building Syndrome” has resulted. Within airtight buildings, if indoor ventilation is insufficient, pollutants can easily accumulate and cause indoor air quality to worsen. Moreover, outdoor pollutants can also influence indoor air quality – the pollutants may be exhaust from vehicles or factories outdoors, or they can be microorganisms breeding as a result of the external air intake ducts or filters of the central air-conditioning system not being cleaned regularly. Especially as Taiwan is situated in the subtropics, with a climate characterized by year-round humidity and high temperature, germs and bacteria breed easily. Therefore, extra care has to be applied on regular maintenance of the air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

       Indoor air quality has an even more significant impact on children, pregnant women, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases. Special attention needs to paid to children as they are still growing, and the ratio of their respiratory capacity to their weight is 50% higher than that of adults. Moreover, children spend more than 80% of their time indoors, so they are more likely to be harmed by indoor air pollution than adults, which makes ensuring healthy indoor air quality a critical priority.

  • How to Improve Indoor Air Ventilation or Air-Conditioning System
       Installing a new ventilation system or adjusting existing ventilation system are two of the most direct and important methods to control indoor air quality. On the other hand, air-purifying equipment can also prevent pollutants from spreading or accumulating via the method of eliminating the pollution source at a fixed point.
  • If the ventilation system already shows a malfunction, one can use the following ways to improve the effectiveness of the existing ventilation system:
  1. Re-tuning and readjusting the ventilation system in accordance with the number of people and layout of the heat source and pollution source indoors.
  2. Increasing the supply of external air.
  3. Removing obstacles blocking the return air vent.
  4. Controlling the pressure difference between the pollution source and other areas.
  5. At locations where actions of releasing highly hazardous or highly concentrated pollutants are performed, such as cooking using gas appliances, photo printing, and welding, install regionally (temporary or permanent) local exhaust system.
  6. Changing or tuning the layout of the air supply and return air vent system to improve the relationship between the air source and air distribution.
  7. Enhancing the air distribution system, e.g. increasing the power of the fans found in the air supply or return air systems.
  • On the other hand, if one would like to enhance indoor air quality at home, one can reference the following simple ways for effective improvement:
  1. Open the windows more frequently to increase the amount of fresh air indoors; however, this method will also consume some cold energy of the air-conditioning.
  2. Regularly clean and maintain air-conditioning equipment (e.g. cleaning and changing filters); it would be even better if you can learn to do this on your own.
  3. When there are pollutants (e.g. essential oils, mosquito repellent incense, pesticide, etc.) indoors, please remove them as soon as possible.
  4. Plan a budget to purchase air-filtering and air-purifying equipment.

       Every year, Taipei City Vocational Development Institute (TVDI) holds a seminar on freezing and air-conditioning engineering. Anyone who is interested in learning more about improving buildings’ indoor air quality and maintenance of air-conditioning and ventilation systems is welcome to visit the official website of the TVDI at https://www.tvdi.gov.taipei/ to learn about the latest seminar information. (Reference for data provided above: Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; Environmental Protection Agency I-BEAM; Indoor Air Quality Information Centre of Hong Kong; Guidance Notes for the Management of Indoor Air Quality in Offices and Public Places of Hong Kong.)