5 Ways to Improve the Indoor Air Quality of Your Business
When asked about air pollution, most people think of industrial chimneys pumping toxic clouds into the air, or a grey layer of smog blanketing a busy city. However, a surprising fact is that the levels of pollution indoors are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. This dangerous indoor air pollution goes largely unnoticed until it is too late, and has extremely adverse effects on our physical and mental health.
There are a variety of different pollutants that can be found in indoor air, such as carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene and chloroform, and biological pollutants such as viruses, bacteria, mould, and dust. These pollutants can be generated by activities like cooking, using electronic devices, and using chemicals for various purposes including cleaning, hygiene, and personal care. Airborne toxins can even come from objects in the building, such as furniture, carpeting, and plastics.
Poor indoor air quality is a major concern to businesses and managers not just because it greatly deteriorates human health, but also because it leads to lower staff productivity and performance, which causes significant financial losses over time. Fixing issues in your building related to indoor air can save help to improve both your health and wellness and your profits! To help you do this, we’ve created a list of 5 ways to improve the air quality in your building.
1. Pay Attention to Your Ventilation Systems
Maintaining good air quality requires attention to the design, maintenance, and operation of a building´s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. These systems can have a significant impact on how pollutants are distributed and removed.
However, they can also end up making things worse when vent filters get contaminated with dirt, moisture, or microorganisms. While systems like this can help with larger, physical particles in the air, they do nothing to get rid of the control gaseous or chemical pollutants.
To optimize your ventilation, we recommend modifying your HVAC system based on the purpose of your space, the projected number of people in the space, and the amount of equipment inside it.
2. Make Your Building Smoke Free
Despite government efforts to reduce the popularity of smoking cigarettes, research shows that it is still one of the largest sources of indoor pollutants, such as carbon monoxide (CO), heavy metals, particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
These days, those who choose to smoke are well aware of the dangers and decide to take the risk. However, even non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25–30%.
The EPA recommends establishing an effective smoking policy that protects non-smokers from involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke.
3. Manage Pollutant Sources, Both Inside and Outside Your Building
Identifying what pollutant sources your office or business may have and minimize occupants’ exposure to them. Think about building maintenance activities, pest control, housekeeping, renovation or remodelling, and new furniture or finishes. Consider switching to all-natural products and removing plastics where possible. This will help with the slow release of toxins into your environment.
4. Control Moisture and Humidity
The presence of moisture and dirt can cause moulds and other icky stuff to thrive. Too much humidity can cause the growth and spread of unhealthy biological contaminants, and too low humidity may contribute to dry eyes and sinus discomfort.
Finding the perfect balance of humidity levels in your building is key to having a healthy environment. If you have any water damage, we recommend to damaged materials promptly (usually within 24 hours) and properly maintain equipment with water reservoirs or drain pans (e.g. humidifiers, refrigerators, and ventilation equipment).
5. Clean Your Indoor Air
Ventilation systems, typically, are ineffective to control gaseous and chemical pollutants, so to remove these types, a high-performance air purifier is needed.
There are many types and sizes of air cleaners available on the market–some are highly effective at particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less so. Make sure you are investing in the best option that fits you and your building’s needs.
- EPA. (n.d). An office building occupants guide to indoor air quality. From: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/office-building-occupants-guide-indoor-air-quality
EPA. (n.d). Secondhand smoke and smoke-free homes. From: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/secondhand-smoke-and-smoke-free-homes
EPA. (n.d). Improving indoor air quality. From: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/improving-indoor-air-quality
Tran, V. V., Park, D., & Lee, Y. C. (2020). Indoor Air Pollution, Related Human Diseases, and Recent Trends in the Control and Improvement of Indoor Air Quality. International journal of environmental research and public health,17(8),2927. From: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/8/2927
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