The importance of improving internal air quality

Stand 47’s concept of efficiency and innovation extends to the philosophy of creating a high-quality product. This does not only relate to construction, but also to a high-quality living space thereafter. While the decision has been taken to use building materials and paints that have little or no release of VOCs into the air, it is impossible to control the habits of the future occupants. For example, we cannot control what cleaning materials they may use or the items of furniture they may buy one day that may in turn affect their health. For this reason, we hope to build awareness about what internal air quality (IAQ), why it is important, and how using Gyproc Activ’ Air plasterboard in Stand 47 will maintain a healthy internal air quality in spite of unpredictable future use.

What is internal air quality and why is it important?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) may be broadly defined as the state of air (clean or contaminated) that in turn affects the health and well-being of occupants. Poor IAQ affects health comfort and productivity (eg. through the aggravation of allergies and asthma) especially if we consider that 80% of our time is spent indoors.

There are two main types of indoor pollutants that compromise internal air quality 
   1. Inorganic Pollutants: CO2, particles
   2. The most important: Volatile Organic Compounds

The problem – why we need to be aware

One of the top five causes (see image above) of lost years of healthy life, is household air pollution. In SA for example, we have the 4th highest asthma death rate. There is mounting evidence that the common household cleaners and body-care products we buy from the supermarket are contributing to the dramatic increases in some of the above diseases.

Many of the common laundry, kitchen & bathroom cleaning products we use contain chemicals known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Things like phosphorous, chlorine, formaldehyde, bleach, etc. are regarded as VOCs and are definitely not ‘body-friendly’.

Formaldehyde* and other indoor pollutants are known carcinogens. In 2004, the World Health Organisation reclassified formaldehyde as a Group 1 chemical – from “probable” to a “known” carcinogen. In 2011, formaldehyde was reassigned as known to be a human carcinogen

Respiratory illness that are related to formaldehyde exposure

  • 50% of respiratory illnesses including asthma are aggrevated by poor indoor quality
  • Formaldehyde and other aldehydes pose a health threat for cancers and respiratory illnesses (act as irritants to the conjunctiva and respiratory tract)

*A gas that forms naturally in the upper atmosphere, and gets synthesized for industrial use. A dangerous form of aldehyde, and a known carcinogen.

Sources of voc

VOCs are found in cleaning solvents and materials, which when they become airborne, exacerbate illness. Mould and mildew are also VOCs that originate in water damaged buildings that remain wet for more than 72 hours and therefore contribute to poor health. Other everyday sources include:

  • Building products and furnishing 
  • Furniture, cabinets, shelving, 
  • Paints, adhesives & glues, 
  • Carpets, building materials…
  • Everyday use items 
  • Cleaning products, detergents, 
  • Air fresheners, 
  • Copiers, printers, 
  • Fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, 
  • New books & magazines, treated fabrics,…

Solution

For all the challenges and issues listed above, and the desire to deliver a high-quality end product, Stand 47 has chosen to use Saint-Gobain Gyproc’s Activ’ Air in the internal cladding and bedroom partition walls. Activ’Air is an innovative plasterboard that improves indoor air quality by permanently removing formaldehyde that is circulating indoors, and thereby improving air quality to ensure a healthy and comfortable home to live in. 

For more information visit www.gyproc.co.za or contact heidi olivier on 012 657 2800