June 12, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued indoor air quality guidelines and standards for homes and buildings. Within these guidelines, the organization outlined a wide number of potentially hazardous inorganic and organic substances that can affect people’s health. If you are looking to keep your house or office healthy, you need to know the best standards for your air. Here are a few facts about the indoor air quality guidelines from the WHO.

The WHO Guidelines

Within the organization’s report, the WHO identified three primary groups of indoor pollutants. These pollutants can be damaging to the environment and cause health problems. These pollutants include contaminants from chemicals, pollutants from indoor fuel combustion, and indoor biological pollutants. You want to keep track of these nonorganic and organic substances by installing an indoor air quality monitor in your home. These monitors will warn you if pollutants are in the air and putting your health at risk.

Threshold Limits for Major Indoor Pollutants

There are many ways that bad air can build up in your house, commercial building, or other workplace. According to the WHO, biological pollutants can originate from mold, bacteria, or fungi when moisture is present. For indoor chemical pollutants, they have diverse origins and are often found in your residence as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from paint, spray chemicals, or other products. In the report, the WHO highlighted eight specific chemical pollutants that can hurt your indoor air quality.


Benzene is a type of chemical that is light yellow or colorless, and it can have a sweet odor. While the chemical will evaporate quickly, it is heavier than air and may sink to low-lying areas. It will not completely dissolve in water, and, in most cases, it will float on the top of it.

Benzene can be present in both indoor and outdoor air, but indoor concentrations are generally higher. It is a carcinogen with no safe level of exposure. The WHO lists the threshold limit value for benzene as 0.1 ppm.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is less dense than air. It is produced from animals in low qualities, and carbon monoxide is known to have a part in some normal biological functions. Within the atmosphere, the gas is short-lived and variable. However, this gas does play a role in the formation of ground-level ozone.

In your home, you need to monitor for carbon monoxide since it can lead to deadly health effects. Problems with the heart and lungs are common with exposure to carbon monoxide. For those exposed to massive amounts of this gas, it can also cause death. When you purchase an air quality monitor, you want to make sure your house stays below the threshold limit of 35 ppm.


Formaldehyde is another colorless gas, but it is very strong-smelling. This gas is used to make building materials and household products. You can find it in pressed-wood products such as plywood, fiberboard, particleboard, adhesives, and glues. For some homes or buildings, the formaldehyde concentration is high enough to cause adverse health effects, including lung and eye irritation. While you will still have trace amounts of formaldehyde, you will want to limit it to a value between 0.1 and 0.3 ppm.

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide is a chemical compound, and it is used in the production of fertilizers. When nitrogen dioxide is heated, it does throw off a reddish-brown gas. While those with asthma and other respiratory diseases will be significantly affected by nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, many healthy people can also experience adverse health effects when exposed to the gas. The WHO recommends a threshold limit value of 3 ppm.


Naphthalene comes in the form of a white, solid polycyclic hydrocarbon with a strong odor. This substance is obtained from the petroleum distillation of coal tar. You can find naphthalene around your home in everyday household products, such as mothballs, toilet deodorant blocks, dyes, and insecticides. The threshold limit for those products should remain under 10 ppm.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are generally found in work environments. Many people are exposed to PAHs from diesel exhaust, carbon electrodes, and wood-burning materials. Industrial manufacturing industries, such as iron, steel, aluminum, and tar, create a high amount of these pollutants. At your house, you can be exposed to PAHs with an application of driveway asphalt or by using natural gas power. The threshold limit on these pollutants will vary depending on the specific chemical.


Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is radioactive, and it is known to cause lung cancer. You cannot see or smell radon in a building. Testing is the only way to know if the radon levels are too high for your home or business. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water. All buildings should be tested for this dangerous gas. Any level of this gas will pose a health risk.

Tetra- and Trichloroethylene

Trichloroethylene is a chemical compound that can be found in industrial solvents, and it generally has a sweet smell. Tetrachloroethylene is a similar compound that is used in dry cleaning solutions. Like many other pollutants, these chemicals can cause respiratory problems and lead to increased rates of cancer. You need to keep the level of these chemicals between 25 and 100 ppm.

Effects on Your Health

Exposure to bad indoor air quality can have adverse effects on your respiratory and cardiovascular health. In some extreme cases, it can lead to chronic health diseases. Indoor air contamination has been linked to respiratory issues, including asthma, rhinitis, and obstructive pulmonary disease. For those residences with high levels of VOCs, there is an increased risk of carcinogens in the air.

Improving Air Quality

If you are looking to improve your indoor air quality, proper ventilation is a must for your home or business. You can do this by opening your windows and allowing fresh air inside your property. There are also ventilation systems on the market to remove poor air from your office or house. For many people, they are living in an energy-efficient property. However, with some of those measures, the building can be airtight and not allow for proper airflow.

You can assess the air quality in your Maplewood home with a test from Primary Service Group. These tests can measure the pollutants in the air and indicate any health risks from the exposure. By keeping track of these harmful pollutants, you can take some measures to limit them in your house or business.

Help With Your Air Quality

Since 2017, Primary Service Group has been serving the community of Maplewood, NJ. We offer high-quality service at an affordable rate. Our highest priority is your complete satisfaction. Our team can work on all models and makes of HVAC units. We even offer financing for those customers with approved credit. In addition to heating and cooling services, we provide indoor air quality solutions and plumbing services. When you need a home comfort service in the Maplewood area, make sure to call Primary Service Group!

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