Health Effects of Poor IAQ

By July 6, 2015 No Comments
6 minutes to read

Dirty air can have a devastating effect on people that already have conditions that make them susceptible to increased levels of polluted air. Some of the more common ailments include asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

People with asthma are susceptible to common dusts, dust mite and cockroach droppings, mold, and even some airborne chemicals known commonly as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Symptoms can be debilitating and include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Emphysema is a disease in which the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs become damaged and is caused by smoking, air pollution and manufacturing fumes. People that have emphysema experience alveoli that turn into large, irregular pockets with holes in them. The surface area of the lungs is reduced over time, resulting in less oxygen transferring from the lungs into the bloodstream. Small fibers that hold open the small airways leading to the alveoli also become less elastic so that when the patient exhales they collapse making it more difficult to breathe.

Emphysema is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Chronic bronchitis is another. Symptoms include having a hard time catching your breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and/or a chronic cough that may produce a lot of mucus. Common COPD causes include smoking, second hand smoke, and air pollution. There is no cure for COPD, only treatment.

When considering the health effects of poor air quality we should also consider children under 14 as they are in development stage that actually requires higher lung function, pregnant women whose systems are already challenged as they are breathing for two and the elderly who are susceptible because of the decreased lung effectiveness.

Hi-Flo ES

A MERV 13 air filter, commonly used in office buildings to protect the environment for employees and visitors. Photo courtesy of Camfil, USA.

The above health problems can be controlled through the use of effective air filtration to reduce airborne contaminants in the indoor environments where these individuals live or work. A MERV 8 filter, classified as a medium efficiency air filter, can provide a cleaner indoor environment by significantly reducing the quantity of particles that produce the symptoms associated with asthma. Higher efficiencies such as MERV 13, commonly used in office environments, can further reduce the prevalence of all the aforementioned lung-related associated with all above the problems noted above. Some filters may lose efficiency over time, so when selecting an air filter to address these health related problems seek air filters that have a MERV-A equivalent to their MERV. MERV is an acronym for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value when a filter is tested using a Standard as published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The higher the MERV, the higher the filter efficiency.

For more information on Camfil and HVAC replacement filters for homes (as well as anywhere else where optimal indoor air quality is imperative), visit Camfil online at

The world leader in air filtration systems, Camfil provides tools to achieve sustainability, maintain high air quality, and reduce airborne infections — all while lowering total cost of ownership. For more information, visit us online at, or call us toll-free at 888.599.6620.

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