Today, indoor air quality is a workplace priority. With increasing levels of CO2 and other pollutants in the atmosphere and higher standards for outdoor air, organisations are beginning to account for their own carbon output, as well as that of staff and contractors. Effectively tackling poor indoor air quality can seem like a daunting task for any organisation, but with just a few small changes, businesses can start to see improvements almost immediately.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the dangers of indoor air quality lately. The risks of poor indoor air are so great, especially during and after of the pandemic, that many businesses took significant steps to ensure their indoor air quality was as good as it could be. However, despite putting in place rigorous ventilation and cleaning policies, indoor air quality is still an issue facing many businesses, especially those situated in densely populated urban centres.
Although it’s common knowledge now, the importance of good indoor air quality wasn’t widely understood until a few years ago. Since then, studies have shown how bad indoor pollution can take a toll on not just our physical health, but our mental health, too. Poor indoor air quality can result in headaches, difficulty breathing, respiratory infections, decision fog, and even cancer. It has also been shown that poor indoor air quality drives down workplace productivity.
Fortunately, there are several things businesses can do to protect their employees and building occupants from poor air quality. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about indoor air quality and what you can do to monitor and eliminate the associated risks.
What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?
Indoor air quality refers to the quality of air within a building and around it, too. When we talk about indoor air quality, we’re specifically looking at how it relates to the occupants of a building, whether they’re employees, guests, contractors, visitors or residents.
Understanding the pollutants that impact the quality of air indoors will help reduce or eliminate the risk of health issues. Not all health issues are immediately observable – some may be experienced years after exposure while others are more apparent from the outset.
The air quality of a given space can be measured in a number of ways, but generally speaking, we look at things like humidity, temperature and particulates.
What causes poor indoor air quality?
There are a great number of pollution sources that affect indoor air quality. Some of these can be easily prevented, while others are more difficult to control. Despite being so important, indoor air quality is a complex topic that is often overlooked by building owners.
Here are a few things that cause or exacerbate poor indoor air quality:
- Building materials
- Poor ventilation
- Construction work
- Cleaning products
- Vehicle emissions
Poor ventilation can increase the levels of indoor pollutants. For instance, if the ventilation system isn’t able to bring enough ‘clean’ outdoor air into the building to dilute indoor emissions and then carry indoor air pollutants out, then you could see a sharp increase in particulates or pollutants in the air which could cause serious health issues.
The benefits of good indoor air quality
1. Indoor air quality is important for your health
Poor indoor air quality can result in headaches, difficulty breathing, respiratory infections, and even cancer. That’s why it’s so important to improve your indoor air quality, especially if you have vulnerable people in your office. Improving indoor air quality can provide significant health benefits and boost wellbeing in the workplace.
2. Improving indoor air quality can save you money
Maintaining indoor air quality can be expensive, especially if you have a large office or workplace. That’s why it’s important to create a plan to improve or optimise your indoor air quality to the best of your abilities. It has been show that poor indoor air quality lowers productivity, which impacts a businesses bottom line.
3. Improving indoor air quality saves the environment
Air pollution more generally is one of the biggest threats the environment faces. That’s why improving indoor air quality is so important, because it saves money and the environment. Beyond this, taking measures to understand the carbon footprint of your business can also positively impact the environment.
4. Good indoor air can create a positive work environment
The environment you work in can impact your mental health, so it’s important to create an environment that promotes good health, starting with high quality indoor air. That way, you can prevent employees and building occupants from developing illnesses that could negatively impact their wellbeing and, in turn, their happiness.
How to improve indoor air quality
Change HVAC filters regularly
Make sure you clean your HVAC systems regularly. Change the filters, service them correctly, and upgrade them if they are unable to cope with the demands of your workplace. HVAC plays a significant role in preventing pollutants and particulates from entering the workplace, so they should not be overlooked.
Keep the workplace clean
Regularly cleaning your workplace so there is less mold, dust and contaminants is vital for maintaining good indoor air quality. However, be warned, cleaning products can be potentially harmful, too. Consider using eco-friendly cleaning products that are chemical-free.
Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!
If you’re not based in a densely populated urban centre or your outdoor air quality is reasonably safe, there’s no better way to improve the air quality and air flow in your building than by opening some windows. Also, ensure your air vents are free from obstructions and cleaned regularly.
Oxygen releasing plants
Sure, indoor plants look good and they create a leafy zen-like environment, but they’re also great at absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Plants like aloe vera, peace lily, snake plants and money plants are all great productivity-boosting additions for any office.
Monitor your indoor air quality
Conducting thorough, regular indoor and outdoor air quality tests will help you identify problem areas so you can eliminate risk. For example, if one part of your workplace is particularly humid, there’s a chance that there could be a higher concentration of pollutants in the air. There is a science to it, but thankfully smart sensors like the Beringar HX2 can detect a range of issues within the workplace environment, giving building owners or operators a detailed breakdown of the problem areas.
Indoor air quality matters
Indoor air quality should be a top priority for building owners as it is vital for maintaining the health and wellbeing of your employees and building occupants. Keeping your work environment clean and well ventilated is a great start, but there are ways to do even better.
While it can be costly to hire external contractors to assess the air quality in and around your building, smart sensors will help you gain a better understanding of occupancy, the immediate work environment and how people interact with your spaces. These insights make for a calm, creative and comfortable workplace that prioritises employee health. Productivity improvements of 8-11% are not uncommon as a result of better air quality within buildings.
Will you take the next step with your indoor air quality? Book a demo today.