The most common definition of stale air is an atmosphere associated with an unpleasant smell. This odour is normally caused by biological components such as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) and carbon dioxide due to exhalation. The issue with MVOCs is that only a handful of these organisms need to be present in order to negatively impact the odour of an environment. This is referred to as a "low-odour threshold". Some of the main causes of MVOCs include moulds, fungus and bacteria. This is why such smells are often present within bathrooms, locker rooms and similarly moist environments.
Still, it can be difficult to physically define stale air. Many individuals will not be able to describe an exact sensation and yet, we are all aware when we enter into a stagnant room. Now that we have taken a look at this type of air, let us move on to examine additional contributing factors.
What is stale air and why is it present only in certain locations? One of the main causes of this situation involves a lack of sufficient ventilation. When air is not allowed to properly circulate, it will begin to accumulate bacteria and the microbial volatile organic compounds mentioned earlier. Additional factors can be the presence of possible airborne chemicals and the level of humidity. Stale indoor air is more likely to occur during the colder months of the year when exterior windows and doors remain shut. This brings us to the next main point which involves the potential health impacts of stagnant conditions.
Stale air is generally considered as more of an irritation than a potential hazard, however, it is important to try to tackle this issue before the consequence becomes severe. We should first point out that limited levels of exposure will normally not cause any noticeable effects upon your health. However, those who remain within a specific environment for extended periods of time (such as working in a warehouse associated with high levels of moisture and little air circulation) may begin to develop physical symptoms. Some studies have linked the conditions below to stale air exposure:
Why is air quality important? It should now be clear that the presence of stale air can have a potential long-term impact on our health. This is even more concerning for the extremely young, the elderly or anyone who has an existing health condition (such as asthma or COPD.
The most important step to address issues with stale air is to improve the ventilation of the area in question. Window fans are quite common, as these will help to bring in fresh air from the outside. It is also possible to use two window fans in conjunction; one blowing air in while the other sucking the stale air out. This will create an ongoing circulatory effect; particularly if the fans are placed at two opposite sides of a room.
Let us also remember that stale air and humidity share a critical link. This is why kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms need to be proactively addressed. Install an extractor fan within these areas that can be activated when cooking washing or cleaning. This will help to lower the levels of ambient moisture so that bacteria have less time to accumulate.
While opening windows is a great way to improve ventilation, this might not always be practical during the colder months of the year (homes can lose a great deal of heat within a short period of time). This is why some property owners have opted for central heating and cooling systems. Still, be sure that the filters associated with these HVAC units are cleaned on a regular basis in order to ensure that they continue to function properly. On a final note, small air purifiers can help to deal with stale air associated with smaller spaces (such as broom closets and walk-in storage areas).
When you choose to use Air Quality Plan for diagnosis, in an attempt to improve indoor air quality and remove stale air, you can be comforted with the knowledge that we will be able to provide you with all of the necessary information to rectify the issues you are facing. We will completely tailor the plan to consider factors such as the size of the room, severity, layout, to ensure that the solution will be completely effective.
What is stale air and how can it be dealt with? The answers to these two questions should now be clear. If you are curious to learn more about how to improve the air quality of your property, please get in touch with one of our specialists so that we can schedule an appointment.