With such high temperatures and humidity levels in United Arab Emirates, mold and fungi growing inside air ducts can cause significant health risks to occupants and damage to furniture. Regular servicing and maintenance of HVAC systems is essential to ensure healthy indoor air quality.
At Adams Care Technical Services we use a specialized air duct cleaning and disinfection system which guarantees a mold free air duct system (A/C, cooker exhaust, exhaust duct) and significantly reduces the risk of indoor air pollution that give way to respiratory allergies.
While extreme climate conditions result in people spending the vast majority of their time indoors, the Gulf region has seen a dramatic increase of respiratory allergies and asthma linked to increased exposure to indoor air pollutants. In fact, the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi (EAD), indoor air pollution is a growing health concern, ranked the second highest environmental risk in the UAE. Studies show that the air inside our homes, schools and commercial buildings can be much more polluted compared to outdoor air, and thus present a major health risks. Particularly vulnerable are infants, school children and immunocomprimised individuals.
The air circulating through our AC’s and air ducts consist of many chemicals and pathogens — phthalates, formaldehydes, mould spores, lead and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Studies have detected over 500 particulates in our indoor air.
In addition, environmental conditions in the UAE encourage an increase of certain allergens. High humidity and temperature support reproduction of house dust mites (HDM), while humidity provides a perfect environment for mold to grow in air-conditioning systems of houses and buildings.
One way of quantitatively ensuring the health of indoor air is by the frequency of effective turnover of interior air by replacement with outside air. All year round, our homes and buildings are under negative pressure to manage air circulation flow which can often lead to poor ventilation. Although indoor air gets sucked out through duct outlets, exhaust fans and stove hoods and should be replaced with fresh, conditioned air from our AC units – the “freshness” of the air coming in depends on how clean those ducts are. Pollutants will remain unless these heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are regularly serviced, properly disinfected and maintained.
Condensation due to high humidity levels and improper ventilation can cause significant moisture buildup inside buildings. In areas where cellulosic materials (paper and wood, including drywall) become moist and fail to dry within 48 hours, mold mildew can propagate and release allergenic spores into the air.
In many cases, if materials have failed to dry out several days after the suspected water event, mold growth is suspected within wall cavities even if it is not immediately visible. Through a mold investigation, one should be able to determine the presence or absence of mold. In a situation where there is visible mold and the indoor air quality may have been compromised, mold remediation may be needed. Mold testing and inspections should be carried out by an independent investigator to avoid any conflict of interest and to insure accurate results.
Some of the more common types of mold found in buildings include:
The primary hazard of mold growth, as it relates to indoor air quality, comes from the allergenic properties of the spore cell wall. Direct exposure to inhaled mold spores, dead or alive or hyphal fragments can lead to allergic asthma or allergic rhinitis. The most common effects are rhinorrhea (runny nose), irritations of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, sinus congestion, and other respiratory problems including asthma attacks and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Although it should be noted that mold spores won’t actually cause asthma, they will trigger episodes in persons who have existing asthma conditions. Residents of homes with mold are at an elevated risk for both respiratory infections and bronchitis.
Aside allergic infections, when mold spores are inhaled by an immunocomprimised individual, they may begin to grow on living tissue, attaching to cells along the respiratory tract and causing further problems. Sinuses and digestive tract infections are most common; lung and skin infections are also possible. Some mold may produce mycotoxins, either before or after exposure to humans, potentially causing toxicity. Exposure can occur at home, at work or in other settings.
Molds can grow on almost any substance providing moisture is present. The best method of prevention is to reduce the amount of moisture. Keep the relative humidity between 30% and 50%. To accomplish this goal, prevention measures include: