Most work environments present different hazards and dangers, which health and safety legislation attempts to control. However, there is one invisible workplace hazard most people aren’t even aware of; and that’s indoor air pollution. Indoor air can be up to one hundred times more toxic within a building than outside, whether that’s a heavy manufacturing plant or just an average office.
So read on to find out how indoor air pollution can affect you, and what you can do about it.
What is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is often badly affected by numerous types of chemical pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and gases including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and radon which can all damage health. Chemical toxins from numerous everyday items including paint, furniture and carpets and everyday office essentials such as print cartridges and photocopier toner impact the air we breathe, and are known to cause problems ranging from sick building syndrome to headaches, exhaustion, respiratory infections and fatigue.
Exterior air pollution is caused by particles, sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxides emitted from engines, power stations and electricity generation. With most people spending 90% of their time indoors, however, then interior air quality can be the bigger problem.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
Aim to reduce the levels of unhealthy pollution in your workplace by following these simple measures:
Identify sources of pollutants
If you’re not sure what types of toxins are impacting your workplace, then it’s worth investing in testing. Environmental and air pollution monitoring analysts recommend installing passive air quality monitors to monitor air quality inside and out.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations act 1992 specifies that enclosed workplaces such as offices are well ventilated. It sounds obvious, but simply opening the windows and allowing a free flow of air to circulate can reduce indoor pollution. However, if air conditioning is used, then make sure it’s regularly cleaned with a filter in place and is not drawing in contaminated air.
Service the Heating System
Check the operation of the heating system to ensure that it’s functioning properly and not emitting carbon dioxide. By law, boilers should be serviced once a year. A Carbon monoxide detector will alert you to any dangerous levels of the gas.
Common indoor plants can filter air, clear carbon dioxide, and help to reduce levels of air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Research undertaken by NASA to assess the best plants for filtering the air in the space station found these plants to be most effective: spider plants, peace lilies, English ivy, weeping fig, rubber plants, and Chinese evergreen. However, any types of plants will improve air quality, so don’t worry if you don’t fancy these. At least two plants per hundred square metres of space is recommended to be most effective.
A dirty and dusty environment is far more likely to harbour toxic chemicals. Clean regularly to remove particulates and dirt build up. However, try and avoid chemical cleaning materials to avoid adding to the problem.
Bill Turner is is an entrepreneur and family man. He enjoys spending lots of time with his kids and Yorkies. He has a family full of athletes and likes to train on the weekends.