Most air conditioners recirculate indoor air during the heating or cooling phase. While this saves energy, there is a very serious health cost to pay when people breathe indoors air versus outside air. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is two to five times MORE TOXIC on average than outside air. This is true even in the most heavily polluted United States metropolitan areas. In fact, in metropolitan areas, some inside air contains one-hundred times more toxic than the outside air.
Why Is the Inside Air So Toxic?
It’s a combination of a great many factors, some of which we’ll discuss below. For now, just know that the toxins found in the inside air contain mostly all human-made elements. These toxins are heavily concentrated during seasons when we don’t open windows, such as the warmer seasons when we run air conditioning. Furthermore, newer buildings that are “better insulated” tend to have inside air that is more toxic than older “drafty” buildings.
Toxins that Diffuse Out of Common Indoor Items
Many buildings have carpet and furniture that absorb and emit toxins. The foam on the back of the carpet and in the stuffing of the furniture provides a constant source of volatile organic chemicals. These (VOCs) are well-known carcinogens and irritants and are found in many other indoor items. This includes fixtures such as drapes and shower curtains. Do you know that funky “new odor” you smell when you hang the new shower curtain? That’s VOCs leaching out. They continue to leach out into the air even when you don’t smell them anymore. Needless to say, your nose is not the best guide when it comes to toxins in the inside air.
We Bring Other Nasty Chemicals Indoors That Contaminate Our Air
We use pesticides that emit toxins into the air we breathe. Popular industrial cleaners contain toxic chemicals like phthalates, perchloroethylene, or “PERC), triclosan, ammonia, chlorine, and 2-Butoxyethanol. There’s paradichlorobenzene in mothballs. Flame retardants found in mattresses, clothes, electronics, and the composition of polybrominated diphenyl and ethers–PBDEs, both highly toxic. These same nasty chemicals plus PCBs (phthalates) are found in many plastic products. This includes toys, plastic plant pots, food containers, lamps, picture frames, eyeglass frames, and plastic organizers. Particleboard furniture emits formaldehyde for as long as you have it in your space!
Does your carpet, furniture, clothes, or other products state they are “stain-resistant?” Does your cookware say “non-stick?” If so, these items contain perfluorinated acids (PFAs) which cause birth defects! Then there are all the nasty chemicals in our building supplies such as the methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. These chemicals find their way into spray foam insulation along with resins found in paint, varnishes, and tiles. There’s also radon gas from your flooring and toxins released from the mold.
What Are Health Costs?
We’ve already mentioned cancer and birth defects but other health hazards occur from toxic indoor air. For example, scientists now believe that toxic indoor air may be partially responsible for the soaring rates of autism and Asperger’s in children. It can also cause nervous conditions like ADD and general anxiety. There has been linkage to Heart diseases due to many of the nasty chemicals found in toxic indoor air too. Asthma and allergies that have been on the rise are also thought to have a toxic indoor air linkage. In fact, many chronic illnesses occur due to or exacerbated by toxic indoor air. These include sinus issues; skin rashes; dizziness; runny nose; persistent cough; achy joints; digestive issues; irritated eyes; nausea; poor concentration; memory loss; weakened immune system; and general fatigue.
OmegaAir and Alpha Aire — DOAS That Pull 100% OUTDOOR Air
When it’s hot and or humid outside, it can be just miserable if you don’t run your air conditioner! However, since most air conditioners recirculate toxic inside air, it can be a difficult choice on what to do. Do you open your windows and just try to bear the hot sticky feel? Or do you close your windows and feel comfortable while knowing you’re breathing in all that toxic air?
The design of Alpha Aire and Omega Air 100% outdoor air systems like all UCA air conditioning equipment are for indoor installation. Air handlers and condensers require no exterior mounting space, which is critical in multi-floor, urban applications. Indoor unit mounting preserves the architectural integrity of the building by keeping the roof and perimeter free of obstructions. In addition to eliminating the roof loads, installation and maintenance costs are lower. In this way, the equipment protection from the elements, and security enhancments happens because of limited outdoor access.