By Jim Gates, CAFS
The indoor air quality of an office environment is very important to the health, comfort, well being, and productivity of every person who works there. Improved indoor air quality is also important to management, as a healthy working environment can lead to higher productivity and fewer lost work days.
Improving Air Quality at Work
Many different factors have an influence how indoor air pollutants affect the occupants of an office environment. Exposure to high levels of pollutants over long periods of time increases the risk of serious, life threatening illnesses and short term exposures can result in irritation and significant respiratory problems. There are many different ways that indoor air quality can be improved:
1. Ensure Proper Air Circulation
Make sure that all air vents and grills are free of obstruction. This allows the indoor air to circulate freely and ventilate wide areas of the office environment. Furniture, boxes, or other materials placed near supply vents or return air grilles can significantly affect air flow.
2. Proper Waste Disposal
Dispose of all waste and garbage promptly and in the proper manner. Leaving waste around the office environment can result in unpleasant odors, the growth of mold and bacteria, and the attraction of pests that can contaminate the air with their waste.
3. Observe Smoking Policy
Make sure that all employees fully comply with the building’s smoking policy. Tobacco smoke exposure can result in respiratory illnesses, breathing difficulties, and lung cancer and tobacco smoke in a building can increase costs for maintaining the ventilation system and for cleaning and replacing smoke-filled furnishings.
4. Isolate Ventilation Hazards
Actions and items that could release unhealthy contaminants or odors in the building should be confined to well-ventilated areas. Many products commonly used in offices, like solvents, adhesives, and pesticides, release chemical pollutants and odors. Office equipment, such as copiers, printers, and fax machines, can have harmful emissions as well. People react differently when exposed to the same contaminants at similar concentrations and exposure to low levels of contaminants emitted by these items may be irritating to people with asthma and other pre-existing conditions.
5. Use High Quality Air Conditioner Filters
High quality air filters will remove many contaminants and air pollutants from the indoor air when they are properly installed and maintained. Filters should be changed on a regular schedule to prevent the build-up of dust and other contaminants from being released back into the air flow. There are many different types of high quality air filters available, making it easy for owners to find the best types of air filters for their equipment.
Breathe Easy at Work
Good indoor air quality management practices can make a big difference in the quality of the indoor air in an office environment. Most indoor environmental problems can be prevented or corrected easily with the application of common sense and vigilance while other air quality issues can be resolved with the addition of high quality air filters to the building’s equipment. Good indoor air quality is dependent on the actions of everyone in the building, so a good working partnership between management and employees is the best way to maintain a healthy and productive office environment.
About the Author
Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. , a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters.