Air Quality in the Workplace

"What’s that smell?" A usual comment among employees at work. When complaints of odd smell, coughing, itching, sneezing, eyes burning, and too much fatigue start to go around in the office then you should seriously consider taking a look at the air quality at your workplace. Indoor air quality can be a serious threat to the health condition of people working in your office. Don’t look now, but if things get worse, you might find your employees feeling nauseous and getting sick.

The concerns on indoor air quality began in the 1970s when energy conservation measures implemented in buildings and office spaces sacrificed proper ventilation. Without air flowing into the buildings and out, indoor air contaminants began to build up.

Causes of unsuitable air quality

We can cite a number of sources where these contaminants could have originated. Sometimes the building’s ventilation system is at fault. Actually the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of the building should be the first thing to look at since the system is responsible for circulating the air in the office.

Other causes of unsuitable air quality in the workplace include chemicals or gases emitted by machines inside the office. If it’s not in the office equipment, look at the cleaners, cleansers and air purifiers your maintenance crew are using. They may contain chemicals that could build up in the long run and cause an unhealthy breathing environment.

The carpet is also a likely source of air pollutants. The carpets were installed using industry grade adhesives and padding materials which can disintegrate into toxic chemicals or gases. Plus, the carpet could easily trap the harmful chemicals from insecticides or pesticides that were applied in the room.

Various biological contaminants like molds, bacteria, pollen and viruses can also cause employees to catch their breath, itchiness of nose and throat, sneezing and other allergic reactions.

Also the build up of radon is not an indication that that office space has a healthy working environment. Radon gas is naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is found in the soil, and asbestos, in plastics and other products. Prolong exposure to radon gas can result long-term health problems.

How to improve the air quality

After identifying what type of pollutants are there at your workplace, the next step would be to clean the air. Clean or modify the HVAC system to ensure that clean air is circulated inside the office. Sometimes opening the windows are really the best thing to do to allow for natural ventilation. Dispose of garbage properly and clean off stains, spills or other mess that could become pools for bacteria and virus.

Switch to mild, non-toxic or biodegradable cleaning products and the same goes to your pest control products or methods. We recommend totally avoiding the use of air fresheners. Wall-to-wall synthetic carpeting can be alluring but such the carpets can really cause problems later on.