When promoting the green qualities of our modular walls, we often mention that modular construction contributes to a better overall air quality where the construction is taking place.

We all want good air quality. We want to be able to breathe easy and we want our lungs to be healthy. We’ve all seen those images of black smoker’s lungs, images that have probably been ingrained in our minds for generations to come, and we often act in opposition to that fate.

This claim of better air quality in our modular construction method raises several questions. How does modular construction improve air quality? Why is better air quality (usually situated indoors) considered green? And what effects does bad air quality have on human beings?

To answer the first question, air quality on the build site is improved due to better control. Modular walls are manufactured in controlled factory conditions, instead of cut and sanded and painted and patched in a variable environment. With previous iterations of construction, crews had to do all the shaping and fine tuning on the actual build site, which can lead to large quantities of particulate matter being released into the air and dispersed throughout, possibly posing a threat to workers and future occupants.

So why is indoor air quality considered green? Our modern understanding of the green movement is that there is an effort to save the environment by means of using less resources, using sustainable resources, and doing work that does less harm as opposed to benefit when it comes to the general environment. Isn’t indoor air pollution a solely human matter, seeing as how only humans are going to be inhabiting the space? Well, if you didn’t know already, you’ll be happy to know that the green movement is also concerned with human well being, and not just the narrow interest in the environment itself. The ideology of the eco friendly persuasion encompasses not only a concern for the environment, but a concern for the effect the environment has on Earth’s inhabitants, including humans!

In that respect, how do airborne particulates effect human beings? We know about the coughing, the difficulty breathing, and the lung irritation, but what is really going on?  

As it happens, particulates are classified by their size. Particles that are 10 micrometers (one-millionth of a meter) or more in diameter are considered coarse and are less dangerous than finer particles. Coarser particles end up in our throat and nose, which eventually get ejected via mucus and saliva and other such mechanisms. At less than 10 micrometers however, particles become more troublesome.  

As particles become finer, they become more dangerous. Particles at 2.5 micrometers and less start to become even more worrisome. Particles at 10 nanometers (on billionth of a meter) and less are extremely fine and even more dangerous.

The more fine the particles, the further they can enter the body. Finer particles reach deeper areas in the lungs and even finer particles can even enter the bloodstream and reach other organs. Particulate contamination and build-up can result in a number of disorders in disease, such as asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular problems, and even death.

So the less particulates we have in the air, the cleaner the air, the less of a risk we have of developing certain diseases. Cutting down in particulates is one aspect of the green endeavor, and necessary to continue the betterment of the human experience.