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How does air pollution affect our health?

Air pollution appears to cause or contribute to a variety of health conditions. The effects of air pollution on a person’s health can range from mild breathing difficulties to severe cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and stroke.

Harmful gases and particles in the air come from a range of sources, including exhaust fumes from vehicles, smoke from burning coal or gas, and tobacco smoke.

There are ways to limit the effects of air pollution on health, such as avoiding areas with heavy traffic. However, significant change relies on improvements to air quality on a global scale.

In this article, we discuss how air pollution can affect a person’s health.


What is air pollution?
Air pollution consists of small particles that can be natural or artificial.

The range of possible pollutants means that air pollution can affect people both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoor air pollution consists of:
-particles from burning coal and gas
-harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide
-tobacco smoke
-ground-level ozone

Indoor air pollution consists of:
-household chemicals
-harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide or radon
-building materials, such as lead or asbestos
-tobacco smoke

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pollutants that pose the highest risk to a person’s health are:

-particulate matter (particle pollutants), which comprises suspended solids and liquid droplets
-nitrogen dioxide
-sulfur dioxide


Short-term exposure
Short-term exposure to air pollution, such as ground-level ozone, can affect the respiratory system because the majority of the pollutants enter the body through a person’s airways.

Short-term exposure to air pollution may lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function. It may also aggravate asthma in people with this condition.

Exposure to sulfur dioxide may cause damage to the eyes and respiratory tract, as well as irritating the skin.


Long-term exposure
Research into the long-term health problems that air pollution can cause is ongoing. Research has linked air pollution to serious health problems, adverse birth outcomes, and even premature death.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Exposure to particle pollutants may cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the WHO, air pollution causes 43% of COPD cases and deaths worldwide.

COPD is a group of diseases that cause breathing-related difficulties, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases block the airways and make it difficult for a person to breathe.

There is no cure for COPD, but treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Lung cancer
According to the WHO, air pollution causes 29% of all lung cancer cases and deaths.

Particle pollutants are likely to contribute to this figure significantly as their small size allows them to reach the lower respiratory tract.

Cardiovascular disease
Research shows that living in an area with higher levels of air pollution may increase the risk of death from stroke. Air pollution may trigger stroke and heart attacks.

A 2018 review notes that the Global Burden of Disease Study estimated air pollution to be responsible for 19% of cardiovascular deaths in 2015. It was also the cause of about 21% of deaths due to stroke and 24% of deaths from coronary heart disease.

Preterm delivery
According to research that featured in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exposure to polluted air can make pregnant women more likely to experience preterm delivery.

The researchers found that the chance of preterm delivery lessened with decreased exposure.



Health effects from specific pollutants
According to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, outdoor air pollution is a carcinogen, meaning that it may cause cancer.

Polluted air contains separate particles and chemicals, each of which has a different effect on health.


Particle pollutants
Particle pollutants consist of a combination of different particles in the air.

Due to the small size of these particles, they can reach the lungs and raise the risk of lung and heart disease.

They may also cause a worsening of symptoms in people with asthma.


Ground-level ozone
Pollutants react with sunlight to create ground-level ozone. Smog consists largely of ozone and is a key trigger of asthma symptoms.


Carbon monoxide
According to a 2016 article, if the levels of carbon monoxide are lower than 2%, this gas does not appear to affect a person’s health.

However, if the levels are higher than 40%, carbon monoxide may be fatal.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
-chest pain
-a headache

If a person suspects that they are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, they should move to an area with fresh air and seek immediate medical help.


Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

It can cause eye irritation and make a person more vulnerable to developing respiratory tract infections, as well as cardiovascular disease.


Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is present in vehicle exhaust emissions. Gas and kerosene heaters and stoves also produce large amounts of this gas.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide may lead to respiratory infections. Typically, inhaling nitrogen dioxide causes wheezing or coughing, but it may also lead to headaches, throat irritation, chest pain, and fever.

How can we reduce exposure?
People can reduce their exposure to air pollutants by limiting the amount of time that they spend in areas with poor air quality. It is important to be aware of possible air pollutants both outdoors and indoors.


Outdoor air pollution
Governments, businesses, and individuals can all help in minimizing air pollution. Reducing emissions from vehicles and the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere may improve the quality of the air.

A person can also check the current air quality by using the AirNow website. This government service monitors air quality across the United States.

The site provides information on air pollution levels, which it color codes according to their potential effect on health. If the rating is orange or above, people can help protect their health by:

-avoiding walking beside busy roads
-exercising for less time outdoors or using an indoor venue instead
-staying indoors until air quality improves


Indoor air pollution
A person can reduce indoor air pollution by ensuring that buildings are clean and ventilated.

Dust, mold, and pollen may all increase the risk of respiratory problems.

Radon gas can build up in homes that developers built on land that has uranium deposits. Radon gas can cause lung cancer.

A person can check for radon in the home by using a radon test kit. Alternatively, they can hire a professional to take this measurement for them.

Radon test kits are available to purchase in stores and online.

A person can use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the carbon monoxide levels in their home or workplace.

Carbon monoxide detectors are available to purchase in stores and online.


Air pollution can be harmful to a person’s health. It may cause respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

A person can reduce the likelihood of health problems by checking the air quality in their local areas and being aware of any existing health conditions.

Carbon monoxide can be fatal. If a person thinks that they have carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get into fresh air and seek medical help immediately.


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The pollution within: Indoor air quality can affect health

Come the festive season and the media are full of stories on the drastic air pollution that envelops our cities, especially the capital. The smog is a deadly cocktail of dust, vehicle exhaust, and smoke from the surrounding countryside where farmers set fire to stubble in their fields to prepare for the next crop. Meanwhile, not much attention is paid to the quality of air inside offices, residential complexes, schools, hospitals where people spend the bulk of their day.

Recent studies have shown that poor indoor air quality can have a deleterious impact on a person’s physical and psychological wellness.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the nature of the conditioned (Heat/Cool) air that circulates throughout space/area where we work and live i.e. the air we breathe during most of our lives.

With research clearly indicating that we spend 90 % of our time indoors and the growing scientific evidence that the air indoor is almost 10 to 100 times more polluted than outside, the risk to health is much greater indoors than outdoors. As we spend more and more time indoors ,mostly in centrally conditioned spaces like our offices,commercial areas ,etc . it is important to pay attention to the quality of conditioned air inside ,

Sources of indoor pollution include particulate matter such as dust and various physical impurities as also complex organic emissions from electrical and electronic equipment, paints, varnishes, chemicals from cleaning agents. Unattended, indoor air pollution can affect the productivity of the occupants in an enclosed conditioned space.

In India, traditional buildings were pretty much open to the environment, which was nowhere near as polluted as it is today. However, as the economy picked up with reforms and liberalization, the need arose for modern climate-controlled interiors; additionally, enlightened government regulations began to specify standards of occupational health and safety for residences, offices, institutions

As outdoor air quality began to dominate public debate, the need for monitoring and handling pollution became paramount. Interestingly, attention also has turned to the management and control of interior environments. Indoor conditioned spaces can broadly be segmented as residential and commercial. In the residential spaces, people are purchasing stand-alone small air purifiers to combat air pollution indoors. However, most of us spend long ours at our offices and other such spaces and thus, it very important to have a centrally managed air purifier in such places as it is not only the outdoor air which is polluted but the indoor air adds to pollutants as large number of people and equipment are working indoors and each contributing to contaminants.

Thus, the most important aspect of the focus on the indoors was the realization that systems design needed to go beyond merely cooling to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Often known by its acronym, HVAC goes beyond providing thermal comfort to ensuring acceptable indoor air quality.

HVAC systems use desiccant technology, which is the key to energy saving and filtering out the contaminates. Energy saving is achieved by recovering the waste energy for conditioning systems to precondition the outdoor air coming in through the conditioning systems and the air purification is through centralized air purification systems working in sync or integrated with whole HVAC systems. One of the major benefits of technology is the reduction in tonnage required for a given space with a concomitant reduction in the use of energy and utility costs. As such, it fits the bill as a sustainable green technology that incorporates a concern of climate change, a crucial new awareness that seeks to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, that is responsible for the phenomenon known as global warming.

Global warming, used interchangeably with climate change, refers to rise over time in the average temperatures caused mainly by human activities including industrialization, transportation, and consumption. Effects of global warming include changes in precipitation patterns, rise in sea levels, extreme weather including droughts, floods, wildfires, and famines.

Apart from setting up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, political leaders of more than a hundred nations have come together to mull a long term response to this looming disaster. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representatives of 196 state entities met in Paris December 2018 to adopt measures to mitigate the impact of global warming. Called the Paris Agreement, the pact seeks to limit the rise in global average temperatures to below two degrees Celsius. Plus each participant has agreed to a set of specific country goals.

The adaptation and financing of measures to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change is truly remarkable. They have devolved not just to specific nations but further, to industrial sectors and services. The effort to control indoor air quality is a small but vital part of the global effort to combat the disruptions of climate change.

It is a matter of pride for us that today India is providing stand alone as well as fully integrated conditioning systems with energy recovery and air purification systems with the most concurrent technologies available worldwide not only in India but also, worldwide including the developed world.




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40% of U.S workers have taken a day off because of air quality, study says

A study has revealed that poor indoor air quality has serious consequences on office workers’ well-being, including a lack of focus and ill health.

Despite many employers not considering the impact that indoor air quality has on their employees, the study, which was commissioned by Ambius, an interior landscape organisation, reveals that one in two office workers in the U.S. has experienced a lack of focus due to poor air quality.

According to the study, 40% of workers have had to take a day off because of poor air quality.

The most commonly experienced indicators or poor indoor air quality include poor air circulation, excessive dust and a smell of chemicals.

With increasing outdoor air quality concerns, the study has revealed that many office workers are choosing to spend more time indoors, with two out of three workers in the US choosing to have their lunch inside due to the air pollution surrounding their office.

With over half (56%) of workers in Canada and almost a third (32%) of workers in the US spending over 8 hours a day in the office, it is important that employees take initiative to improve indoor air quality.

Four out of five respondents in the US agreed that it is their employee’s responsibility to improve air quality, however, over a quarter of office workers were unaware if their employers are actually doing so.

Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius said: ‘With workers spending so much time indoors, it is imperative that businesses are aware of ways to create indoor environments that can positively impact the health and well-being of employees, and that includes air quality.’

‘Bringing elements of nature into the workplace has positive effects on performance, including increases in productivity, job satisfaction, creativity and a greater sense of well-being.’

Ambius have said that office design should produce a space where employees can work comfortably to produce the best possible work and increase the overall well-being of office workers.



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Mercedes-Benz agrees to massive settlement after mold found growing in HVAC systems

More than 2.5 million Mercedes-Benz owners will soon be getting help with the nasty smells that can come from their cars’ air conditioning units.

For more than two years, WSB-TV has reported on the issue: luxury cars with an embarrassing problem.

Mold grows in the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system for various models of Mercedes vehicles, and it leads to odors.


Mercedes owner Ketan Patel called it “a pungent, mildew, sweaty, moldy, sweat sock smell.” He’s also an attorney. He filed the class-action lawsuit along with co-counsel.

Now, Mercedes-Benz has agreed to a class-action settlement. More than 2.5 million vehicles nationwide are covered by it.

The deal is not capped, meaning Mercedes will pay the full amount owed and continue to make repairs for every car owner, regardless of how much it ends up costing.

Attorney Annika Martin represents car owners in the class-action suit.”It provides relief for all the money they’ve had to pay to deal with this, because it wasn’t covered under warranty,” Martin told WSB-TV. “It also basically provides a warranty coverage up to the 10-year birthday of the car to deal with it in the future if it is necessary, and I think that’s a big win.”

Mercedes and the attorneys for the class have both agreed to this deal. A federal judge will have to sign off to make it official.

Then every car owner covered by the agreement will get a notice in the mail about how to sign up for repairs or to receive money owed.

The proposed settlement class is defined as a nationwide class of all current and former owners and lessees of Mercedes-Benz 2008-19 C-Class, 2010-15 GLK Class, 2012-17 CLS-Class, 2010-19 E-Class, 2015-19 GLA-Class, 2013-16 GL Class, 2016-19 GLE-Class, 2017-19 GLS-Class, 2012-15 M-Class and 2016-19 GLC-Class vehicles who purchased or leased their vehicles in the United States.


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Entrevista Leonardo Cozac – É preciso aumentar a conscientização

É preciso aumentar a conscientização

Entrevista: Leonardo Cozac

A preocupação com o tema da qualidade do ar interior é um dos mais atuais e presentes temas no segmento, porém é preciso levar essa questão de forma mais ampla para toda sociedade. A Revista ASBRAV conversou com uma das maiores autoridades nacionais no assunto, Leonardo Cozac, que é Engenheiro Civil e de Segurança do Trabalho.Revista ASBRAV – Que fatores você considera que são mais graves em relação ao tema da qualidade do interior?

Leonardo Cozac- Considero a falta de conhecimento da população ainda um fator muito preocupante. De uma maneira geral, a população não se preocupa com o ar que respira. Fazendo uma comparação com a água, aprendemos na escola básica que a água que consumimos deve ser sem cheiro, sem cor e sem gosto. E ninguém bebe ou utiliza uma agua que não conheça sua procedência. Já com o ar respiramos o ar que nos é fornecido sem nos preocupar se é de qualidade ou não. Quando um pai vai conhecer a nova escola dos filhos será que questiona se a QAI dentro da escola é boa? Então porque é tão comum uma criança ficar gripada, por exemplo, e na sequencia vários colegas de classe ficarem também? No shopping que frequentamos, antes de ir pensamos se a QAI lá é adequada para nossa família? De uma maneira geral a sociedade não pensa nisso, partindo do princípio se o ambiente está refrigerado, está bom. O que não é uma verdade simples.

Fazendo uma comparação com EUA, por exemplo, vende-se filtro de ar condicionado em prateleira de supermercado. Não precisa de norma ou lei para obrigar as pessoas comprarem filtros para sua casa. Já existe a consciência da importância desse elemento para melhorar a QAI.

Revista ASBRAV – Quais os principais desafios para levar a todos os setores da sociedade o tema da implantação do PMOC?

Leonardo Cozac- Por muitos anos a sociedade consome ar condicionado com objetivo de melhorar o conforto térmico. Se a temperatura está agradável, o ambiente está bom. Com isso, profissionais do setor se especializaram nesse aspecto técnico. De cerca de 20 anos para cá, após a publicação da Portaria 3523/98 pelo Ministério da Saúde, que o conceito de PMOC/ QAI ganhou importância. Considero nosso maior desafio os profissionais do setor (engenheiros, arquitetos e técnicos) levarem esse conscientização sobre QAI a sociedade. Esses profissionais trabalharam anos sem esse conceito. As escolas técnicas e de curso superior ainda não abordam de forma adequada esse tema. Os profissionais do setor devem ser os agentes de disseminação a sociedade da importância sobre a qualidade do ar interno.

Revista ASBRAV – Acredita que profissionais que se envolvem nos modelos construtivos como engenheiros e arquitetos estejam já conscientes da importância deste tema dentro dos projetos ou ainda há muito a ser feito?

Leonardo Cozac- Sem dúvidas esses profissionais já tem a consciência sobre a importância do tema de QAI. Porém ainda há desafio de conseguir conscientizar ao empreendedor/ investidor que vale a pena investir em um bom projeto. Diversos estudos internacionais mostram que uma boa qualidade do ar interno garante aumento de produtividade, redução de custas médicas e do absenteísmo nas empresas e escolas.

Como em diversos edifícios comerciais o maior custo das empresas é o salário de seus funcionários, o retorno sobre investimento em QAI é muito rápido. Levar essa informação ao consumidor considero ainda uma grande desafio.

Leonardo Cozac

Engenheiro Civil e de Segurança do Trabalho formado pela Universidade Paulista. Membro do Grupo Setorial de Qualidade do Ar Interno, em 97/98.

Participante do Green Building Council – Divisão Qualidade do Ar de Interiores.

Professor convidado de Pós Graduação do Mackenzie. Professor do curso de MBA Arquitetura, Construção e Gestão Sustentável.

Presidente do Qualindoor – Departamento nacional de Qualidade do Ar de Interiores da ABRAVA – Gestão 2008-2010 e 2013-2015. Vice-Presidente de Economia – Gestão 2013-2015 da ABRAVA. Consultor Certificado de Qualidade do Ar de Interior pela ACAC – American Council for Accredited Certification.

Presidente da Conforlab Engenharia Ambiental.


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O eng. Leonardo Cozac representou a ABNT – Associação Brasileira Nacional de Normas Técnicas, por meio do Comitê Brasileiro 055, coordenado pela ABRAVA na reunião técnica da Plenária do TC 146 – SC 06 – Indoor Air Quality, realizada na Alemanha. Representantes de 09 países estiveram presentes: Brasil, Alemanha, Bélgica, Canada, Coreia do Sul, Espanha, Estados Unidos, França e Japão.

Para Cozac, “Estar presente como delegado da ABNT foi um marco para o setor que represento, pois, foi a primeira vez da participação brasileira nesse grupo de trabalho. Um orgulho estar junto a grandes especialistas internacionais do setor de QAI representando as principais economias do mundo, e ter poder de voto em ocasião tão importante. O Brasil está alinhado com as tendências técnicas mundiais.”

Foram três dias de reuniões, na pauta, diversos assuntos ligados a qualidade do ar interno, como microbiologia, partículas, VOC, bioefluentes, plano de gerenciamento de QAI, entre outros temas.

Entre os assuntos tratados, foi discutida a possibilidade de criação de novas normas ISO, como por exemplo, de equipamentos de medição de concentração de massa de material particulado com sensores de baixo custo. Outro tema debatido, foi sobre a importância de medir TVOC (Compostos Orgânicos Voláteis Total). Há consenso que TVOC não serve como guideline para classificação de ambientes, e sim como uma visão geral nas inspeções de rotina. Foi discutida a norma técnica que está em elaboração ISO/AWI 16000-42 “dealing with the measurement of sub-micron particles”.

A próxima reunião plenária do grupo será em Paris, em setembro de 2020.


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Palestra – Plano de Segurança da Qualidade do Ar Interno

Palestra sobre “Plano de Segurança da Qualidade do Ar Interno”, com o Eng.° Leonardo Cozac Diretor da Conforlab, no dia 23 de setembro às 19:00 horas, na APAEST/SEESP.

LOCAL: Sede da APAEST, Rua Genebra, 25, CEP 01316.901, São Paulo – SP., Próximo do Metrô Anhangabaú. Estacionamento no local.
Contamos com a Presença de Todos.

Conforlab_23 a 29 setembro

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Conforlab apresenta soluções para qualidade do ar interno na Febrava

Pela décima vez consecutiva, a Conforlab exibe na Feira Internacional de Refrigeração, Ar Condicionado, Ventilação, Aquecimento e Tratamento de Ar (Febrava) seu portfólio de serviços de análise da qualidade do ar, tratamento de água e higienização de dutos.

A grande inovação da empresa em destaque na atual edição da mostra, que começou ontem (10) e prossegue até sexta-feira (13) no São Paulo Expo, na zona sul da capital paulista, é seu Plano de Segurança da Qualidade do Ar Interno (PSQAI), além do monitoramento online da qualidade do ar e água e análise de brometo de lítio, serviço pioneiro sendo realizado em laboratório no Brasil com maior rapidez e menor custo nos resultados.

“Por meio desse plano, verificamos todos os riscos que o ar de baixa qualidade traz as pessoas dentro de um ambiente, através de questionários epidemiológicos, avaliação de risco, análises laboratoriais e um completo check up das instalações”, diz o engenheiro Leonardo Cozac, diretor da Conforlab.

Sistema de Gerenciamento de Tratamento de Água da Conforlab em exposição na Febrava | Foto: Evandro Monteiro/Pauta Fotográfica

Segundo o executivo, o serviço de monitoramento online de ar e água permite acompanhar, em tempo real no computador ou celular, a qualidade da água de climatização ou do ar climatizado, o que resulta em controle mais ágil e preciso dos sistemas instalados.


Conforlab apresenta soluções para qualidade do ar interno na Febrava

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