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How air conditioning improves air quality

How air conditioning improves air quality

20 Sep 15:00 by Jason Thornhill

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Air quality can have a real effect on our health, and the benefits of air conditioning can help make a real difference.

A report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health looked at the lifelong impact of air pollution on health. Published last year and welcomed by the air conditioning sector, Every Breath We Take examined the cumulative impact of both outdoor and indoor air quality on public health.

Why is air quality important?

Whether at home or at work, the quality of the air we breathe can affect not only how comfortable and productive we are, but also our short- and long-term health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, lack of concentration, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It can exacerbate asthma and allergies. In addition, exposure to certain indoor contaminants and environments can play a role in causing illnesses including cancer, stroke and diabetes. Some health problems are related to specific environments, such as asthma and a damp room.

What affects indoor air quality?

IAQ is affected by a variety of factors: poor ventilation, temperature, humidity, mould and indoor pollutants.

Indoor pollutants at home can include:

  • Dust, especially during renovation work
  • Cooking and cleaning products, including air fresheners
  • DIY activities such as paint stripping, painting and sanding
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Candles
  • Mould
  • Radon, a naturally occurring gas which can have long-term health implications

Contaminants inside schools, offices and other workplaces can include:

  • Dust and chemicals from construction or renovation work
  • Cleaning products
  • Mould
  • Radon

How can indoor air quality be improved?

Adequate airflow and ventilation are key in improving IAQ. Sometimes this can be achieved through a level of natural ventilation, such as by opening windows and doors. This can help control temperature, and reduce or remove pollutants and humidity. Another way of improving air quality can be to remove the cause of the humidity, mould or contaminant.

But, in many cases, a mechanical HVAC system will be required to help maintain a good level of IAQ.

Benefits of air conditioning

An air conditioning system maintains an AIQ that provides a healthy and comfortable environment for people to live and work in. It:

  • Maintains humidity by humidifying or dehumidifying
  • Provides constant and adequate ventilation
  • Cleans the air by removing allergens and pollutants
  • Maintains a desired temperature by heating or cooling the air

How does air conditioning work?

Air conditioning helps circulate and filter indoor air, as well as maintaining the temperature. Most units contain a filter which removes pollutants and allergens from the air inside a room.

Servicing your air conditioning system

Air conditioning systems involve complex engineering and maintenance by a qualified air conditioning engineer is vital to ensure the unit is working and the air conditioning benefits are at their optimum.

An air conditioning unit or system that is not properly cleaned and maintained can create problems for people with allergies and asthma. This is because it can end up circulating rather than removing pollutants and allergens such as dust and pollen. It can also contain moisture, leading to an accumulation of mould and other moisture-related problems. It can even create toxic vapours if there’s a leak from refrigerants and other chemicals.

Depending on the type and size of your air conditioning unit or system, an HVAC maintenance engineer may be required. For larger premises and offices, where a complex air conditioning unit or system is in place, a qualified HVAC professional should be sought to carry out testing and maintenance.