Pollutants in the air

Whether at work or during leisure, people spend most of their time in closed internal spaces. If the internal air is not regularly cleansed or replaced by fresh air from outside, the concentration of CO2 in the air can rapidly rise. Internal air also collects harmful allergens, microorganisms and fine dust. These all affect our productivity and concentration – and can lead to serious health problems.

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Formaldehyd (CH2O) is the best-known of the volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are organic substances that vaporize easily. They are found in cleaning materials, for example, as well as in furniture, pesticides, and even children’s toys. If certain volatile organic compounds enter the air in high concentrations, they can lead to headaches, skin irritation, and other health problems.

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Fine dust

Fine dust with a diameter of up to 10 microns (PM10) is emitted by motors during the combustion process, and is found near industrial plants. It is also released indoors by copier machines, candles and cooking, and is present in tobacco smoke. Because of its tiny size, it is easy for fine dust to enter the body in the air we breathe, which can lead to lung, heart and circulation problems.

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Ultrafine dust

Ultrafine dust up to a diameter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is emitted, like fine dust, mainly via combustion processes – so it is found in automobile exhaust, for example. At 2.5 microns, ultrafine dust can move even deeper into the body – including into the air sacs in our lungs that supply our blood with oxygen. Ultrafine dust is particularly associated with higher rates of heart failure.

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Microorganisms include spores, molds, viruses and bacteria. As pathogens, microorganisms lead to infections and can create long-term health problems. Since they spread particularly easily through the air, it is all the more important to regularly refresh and properly clean the air indoors. The elimination of microorganisms is an important contributor to avoiding sickness and ill-health.

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Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that prevents the take-up of oxygen in the blood. CO occurs indoors through cooking on gas burners or using a fireplace. If extractor hoods are blocked, carbon monoxide can collect in living areas. Carbon monoxide poisoning typically reveals itself through headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations and nausea – and can even lead to death.

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Humans continuously breathe in oxygen (O2) and breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2). As a result, if rooms are not constantly supplied by fresh, oxygen-rich air, the concentration of CO2 inevitably rises. When there is too much CO2 in the air, this can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, difficulties with concentrating, as well as a greater risk of infection by disease.

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Benzene is a highly noxious substance that is contained in gasoline, so it mainly enters the air we breathe through automobile exhaust on busy streets, and around gas stations and workshops. Benzene is also a component of tobacco smoke. Even small concentrations in the air can cause cancer. The long-term results of breathing in benzene include damage to internal organs and to bone marrow.

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Allergens include plant pollen and animal hair, and if present in the air we breathe, they can set off allergic reactions, resulting from over-reaction by the immune system. Typical symptoms of an allergic reaction are skin rashes, dizziness, vomiting, coughing and asthma. Air purification reduces the amount of allergens in the air, allowing people with allergies to breathe freely again.

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The ozone (O3) in the ozone layer of the stratosphere protects the earth against the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. It is produced by the reaction of oxygen molecules with the sun’s radiation. But on earth, ozone is a poisonous gas that can enter indoors from outside. At too high concentrations in the air we breathe, ozone can lead to lung disease, chest pain, and throat irritation.

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