Indoor allergens are biological or chemical agents which usually cause allergenic reactions in susceptible individuals.
Microbes share both the indoor and outdoor environments with us each and every
day. They are ubiquitous in nature and are all around us. We are exposed to these entities 100% of the
time. Oftentimes, these animate creatures go unnoticed; however, on occasion
they can adversely affect our health. For this discussion we will focus on the
indoor environments of which we spend 90% of our time.
Some common and frequently reported
microbes of the indoor environment include, but are not limited to, viruses,
bacteria, mycoplasma, mold (fungi), yeast, protozoa, etc. It is difficult to
predict the types and quantities of microbes sharing closed environments with
humans and other animals, although numbers of microbes thrive in our
surroundings, including both unicellular and multi-cellular microorganisms.
Studies have shown that growth of these microorganisms is often supported by
moisture, darkness, availability of food sources and a favorable temperature
ranging from 72º - 80ºF.
Indoor microbes are problematic to
certain individuals, especially those who have a weak immunity. Depending upon
sensitivity and other factors, these microbes may initiate allergy, infection
and diseases. Allergy refers to an accelerated, altered reaction after exposure
to a foreign substance by an individual. Infection is a condition where
microbes invade the host body system and multiply with production of toxins. A
disease due to microorganisms is a health condition that impairs normal
functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.
Indoor allergens are biological or
chemical agents which usually cause allergenic reactions in susceptible
individuals. Some common symptoms of allergenic reactions are sneezing,
stuffiness, runny nose, or itchiness in your nose, the roof of your mouth,
throat, eyes or ears, watery eyes, rashes and bumps on skin, etc. Allergens may
have a biogenic or an a-biogenic source of origin. Some common indoor
bio-allergens include bacteria, mold (fungi), dust mites, insects, pet dander
and/or other substances along with plant and animal particulates of various
natures. The a-biogenic indoor allergenic substances often include gases or
particulates originating from building materials, fabrics, glues, paints, solvents,
dyes, perfumes and other inorganic or organic particles and matter.
Viruses, mycoplasma, bacteria, mold
(fungi) and protozoa are common infectious entities of biological nature in and
around indoor environments. Most of them are microscopic in nature and present
in the ambient air, on environmental surfaces and liquid sources. They also
dwell on hosts such as infected individuals residing within a closed
environment. Infectious agents, such as bacteria, are capable of producing
various odors such as human body odor, fruity smells, pungent stink, earthy
smells, locker room odor, sour milk-type reek, etc. A healthy individual may
acquire infection due to inhalation, contact or ingestion of infectious agents.
Infections due to inhalation are common in indoor environments. For example the
bacteria that are growing in humidifiers, heating, air-conditioning and
ventilation systems can trigger pneumonia or other respiratory infections after
inhalation. Infectious fungi which may be accumulated due to bird droppings can
cause Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcus.
Yeast infection is also common in indoor environments. Consumption of
contaminated food with Campylobacter,
Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, E. coli,
Clostridium etc. can cause severe
infection (food poisoning). Human contact with mice, rat, etc. droppings can
cause Hantavirus infection. Protozoa and other parasites, such as Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia, etc., are capable of causing infection through ingesting or coming into contact with
contaminated food, soil or water in the indoor environment. Chemical pollutants
of the indoor environment, such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds,
are important, non-biological infectious agents of indoor environments.
diseases are commonly caused due to indoor air pollution and other factors of
indoor environments. According to a survey published by the World Health
Organization in 2000 revealed that 2.7% of the global burden of disease is caused
by indoor air pollution. Indoor diseases are caused by both living as well as
nonliving substrates. Some common living things capable of causing diseases are
viruses, bacteria, mold (fungi), protozoa and other parasites. Some common
diseases acquired due to indoor factors are obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
Legionnaires' disease, Pontiac fever, cancer (lungs
and other), diseases related to the immune system and others. Exotoxin,
endotoxin, mycotoxin and other microbiological volatile compounds produced by
various microbes are identified as important disease-causing agents of indoor
environments. Indoor chemical and radiological agents are also listed as
potential sources for initiating various diseases in individuals.
Prevention through management is a good
practice in order to appropriately address the health risk associated with
indoor microbes. It is essential to have a periodical assessment to avoid the health
risk caused by indoor microbes. A routine check-up of bioaerosols from ambient
air and environmental surfaces are good options to identify and quantify
the indoor microbes. The outcome is also important for a
source causation relationship. Initiate a remedial action if a problem and/or
concern is identified. Prevent accumulation of dust and debris on environmental
surfaces, perform routine maintenance of filtration systems; avoid standing
water and taking caution with animal feces are some important steps to maintain
a good, healthy indoor environment. Good record keeping on building management
is recommended as an important action to avoid any health associated risks
posed by indoor microbes.
To discuss environmental prevention
management (EPM) of your building or home call the credentialed professional
indoor environmental consultants at Pure Air Control Services-Building Sciences
team at 800-422-7873, ext. 802.
information on laboratory services call EDLab at Pure Air Control Services
1-800-422-7873 ext 303 or visit the web site at www.Edlab.org
and ask for Dr Rajiv Sahay.
About Pure Air Control Services:
founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a small mechanical
contracting firm. Today, the firm sets the industry standard for indoor
environmental quality diagnosis and remediation.
Control Services nationally performed IAQ services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; EDLab an AIHA accredited
Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; PURE-Steam
Coil Cleaning and HVAC
System Cleaning & Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor
expanding client roster includes the FAA, Walt Disney World, Northrup Gruman,
General Services Administration (GSA); Allstate Insurance; USPS, CBRE, Carrier
Air Conditioning; NAVFAC, DOT, USACE, US Army, and many other Fortune 500
companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure
Air Control Services the reliable industry leader.
information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Alan Wozniak at
(800) 422-7873 ext 802 or 804 respectively, or visit www.pureaircontrols.com.