How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Office
On average, persons who work in an office will spend a third or more of their lives in that environment. The nature of office work means that employees there will have limited opportunities to get outside where the air is fresher or change locations where the environment will be different. For the sake of employee health and comfort, it is important to improve indoor air quality in the office whenever possible.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality refers to the freshness and cleanliness of the air in an indoor environment. High-quality indoor air will be:
- Free of airborne contaminants and particulates such as dust, pollen, mold spores, fibers, and similar material.
- Free of unpleasant fumes and odors that can irritate eyes and respiratory systems, cause physical illness, or (in the case of carbon monoxide) seriously harm health or cause death.
- Free of bacteria, viruses, germs, and microorganisms that can cause disease or physical reactions.
While it is not likely that all contaminants can be removed from the air in a typical office environment, steps can be taken to significantly reduce them and make the office area more pleasant and less likely to produce discomfort and spread disease.
Why Be Concerned with Indoor Air Quality?
If office indoor air quality is poor, those who work in that office will be exposed to it for several hours a day. This can have a significant effect on both the health and comfort of the people who work in your office. Employee productivity can be reduced by illness, discomfort, or respiratory issues caused or exacerbated by poor indoor air quality.
Absenteeism could increase because of illness or unwillingness to be exposed to the contaminants in the office. In the most serious cases, employee health and comfort could be compromised significantly enough to trigger lawsuits or the involvement of regulatory agencies.
Sources of Poor Indoor Air Quality
To improve indoor air quality, it’s necessary to identify the source of contaminants in the air. Some of the more common sources of poor indoor air quality include:
- Dust and other particulates produced from indoor construction or renovation.
- Odors produced by equipment, cleaning solutions, trash, or industrial processes.
- Accumulated dust from inadequate cleaning.
- Perfumes, colognes, or cosmetics worn by office colleagues.
- Tobacco smoke.
- Infiltration of odors, fumes, smoke, or particulates from activities occurring outside your office, such as construction, remodeling, road resurfacing, or material burning.
Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in the Office
You can improve indoor air quality in your office by taking some or all of the following steps:
- Remove the source: Get rid of trash or other material that could produce odors. Use cleaning products that have the least amount of odor possible. Store cleaning products or other strong materials properly and in well-sealed containers. Prohibit smoking and establish office policies on the wearing of perfumes and colognes. Avoid running fuel-powered equipment that could produce dangerous carbon monoxide.
- Change HVAC system air filters: Put clean air filters in the heating or cooling system. The HVAC system is an important component for indoor air filtration but must have clean filters installed to be effective.
- Increase ventilation: Increase the amount of air circulation and ventilation inside your office. This will help remove particulates and odors while bringing in a constant supply of fresh outdoor air.
- Install air filtration equipment: Air filtration or cleaning equipment installed alongside your furnace or air conditioner can improve indoor air quality by adding more powerful and effective filtration to the air moving through the HVAC system.
- Add some plants: Plants and related indoor vegetation can help clean and freshen the air inside your office.
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