Healthy Air Quality For A Healthy Building
A healthy working environment isn’t always visible. The cleanliness of an building is also significantly based on its unseen air quality.
What does “indoor air quality” mean for your business and workers, and what can you do to ensure that your building is safe from these invisible issues?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) describes the health and wellness of the air in a given space or environment. Temperature, humidity, ventilation, mold, water damage, bacteria, chemicals, and pollutants can all drastically affect air quality. A poor air quality can negatively affect a person’s health, comfort, and productivity within the space.
Are There Air Quality Guidelines?
There are currently no OSHA air quality standards set in place. However, due to the General Duty Clause of the OSHAct, all business and building owners must provide a safe workplace environment with no known hazards. Poor air quality is an occupational work hazard that can be detrimental to the success of a company.
How Do You Know If You Have Poor Air Quality?
There is no official test that can determine good or poor air quality in a given environment. However, often air quality can be determined based on temperature, humidity, and airflow within the space.
You will know there is a problem with the IAQ if there are any of the following symptoms:
- Unpleasant or musty odors
- Feeling of stuffiness, heaviness, or humidity
- Feelings of lethargy or fatigue while in the building
- Dryness and irritation of eyes, sinuses, throat, and skin
- Congestion, coughing, sneezing
- Exacerbated allergies
More serious problems include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and asthma. This may indicate a serious chemical or pollutant in the air that needs to be addressed immediately.
There are several underlying problems that can cause poor air quality. NIOSH found that inadequate ventilation along with inside and outside contamination were the top sources of unhealthy air. Ultimately, a lack of circulation within the environment can lead to a stale, polluted, and contaminated indoor atmosphere.
A lack of ventilation is often present in large buildings with few windows or doors to the outside. Dampness and moisture may also hang in the air due to leaks, floods, humidity, or standing water in humidifiers, AC units, boiler pans, and even refrigeration units.
Construction, remodeling, and broken mechanisms can also introduce dirt, dust, bacteria, and pollutants into the air. Without proper ventilation, this can quickly become a more serious problem.
The goal is to maintain a comfortable temperature and humidity, free of pollutants and chemicals, with an adequate supply of fresh, ventilated air.
- When you smell an odor, always check and resolve the source immediately.
- Quickly eliminate leaks, water damage, pest issues, or broken machinery.
- Routinize cleaning and refreshing any standing water in humidifiers, AC units, boilers, and other machinery.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaners, like ACS Focus Green Seal Certified Products, to avoid introducing chemicals into the air.
- Always have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors present and working.
- Routinely check for radon, asbestos, gases, formaldehyde, and mites.
However, those six steps are defense mechanisms after an IAQ problem has already struck. It is much better to prevent the problem ahead of time. The simplest way to protect workers from dust, odors, and toxins is to use high-powered air movers and commercial fans. These can be placed in poorly ventilated rooms, basements, and storage areas to keep air circulating properly.
After washing a floor, you should also use an air mover to quickly dry the surface and avoid any smells or chemicals lingering in the air. We recommend an air mover with a handle and wheels for easy transport and mobility, such as this XPower P-800H Air Mover.
You may also want to implement a long-term action plan to keep your IAQ at a high-quality standard. Learn more about a typical EPA and NIOSH Building Air Quality Action Plan here.
Our goal at Floorcare is to provide you with a safe building and workplace that will keep your business and employees healthy, happy, and productive. With help from any of our air filtration systems, you will be able to exponentially improve the quality of air and overall quality of the work environment.