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Paying Attention to the Quality of Air in Your Workspace

Posted in Air Quality, on January 06, 2017

Many of us are paying attention to global warming and air pollution because it’s constantly on the news. And while great gains are being made on this front, not much attention is being focused on the air that we’re breathing in while we sit in our workplace. In many cases, in homes and offices around the country, occupants are experiencing illness and sickness simply because indoor air is poor quality. This is especially common in new and renovated buildings that have been air-sealed for the purpose of energy efficiency. There’s just not enough fresh air circulating throughout. In extreme situations, "sick building syndrome" has been recognized as a consequence of poor indoor quality.

Clearly, there are various causes, but the worst outcome is workers suffering from a wide range of symptoms and ailments. In some workplace environments, employees are living and working in what the professionals call a “chemical stew” - everything from cleaning products, to second hand smoke, to fax machine off-gassing. Hard to believe, but those who work in high rise office buildings could be breathing in car and truck exhaust from the underground parking. With poor air circulation and poor clean-air ventilation, it’s common for workers to be exposed to a “chemical stew” throughout the workday, and right through the workweek. Office printers and copy machines emit all kinds of fumes. Carpet cleaning products can off-gas for days in a row. And air contaminants that aren’t properly filtered are being breathed in day after day. The fact is, poor quality air can negatively impact worker performance, and in worst-case scenarios, can lead to a range of health issues.

The good news is that second-rate air quality can be easily reversed. Air quality professionals point to bad ventilation as one of the biggest problems in the workplace. This is because fresh, outdoor air is not being properly circulated throughout the office space, and the building at large.

Further, contaminated (or polluted) air is not being properly filtered via the existing ventilation system. In any workplace, large or small, it’s critical for the air ventilation system to be operating at peak. And that includes appropriate maintenance of the HVAC system (heating/ventilation/air-conditioning), including the installation of high performance air filters. Moisture, humidity, and dampness also affect air quality in the workspace. If indoor air moisture is overly high, these are conditions that could propagate mold.

Even worse, mold spores could be circulated throughout a building right through the ventilation system.

Here, an expert inspection of the premises could pinpoint telltale signs of mold around vents, windows, ceilings, and walls. As it is, mold presents unique challenges in any office environment – something that will require a professional approach to assessment, and mold specialists who can mange the remediation. The bottom line for workers is to be attentive to air quality issues. Any suspicions in that regard should be addressed with a professional air test to determine unsafe levels of air pollutants. And with a reputable air quality specialist on hand, the proper steps can be taken for resolution.

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