How often do we think about air quality in our work environment?

It’s no doubt happened to you in your working life.  If there is a group of people working in the same room, there’s always someone who want the window closed and someone else who wants it open, someone who wants the thermostat turned up and someone who can’t live without the air conditioning on.

The goal for everyone is, in reality, to have an office with good air circulation, standard CO2 levels and, in general, low indoor pollution, since ventilation systems with damaged conduits, blow contaminated air back into the room rather than allowing air circulation, spreading bacteria, toxic gases,  fungi, and other pollutant substances that are present in the building.

It’s not just a question of comfort. Good air quality improves output and productivity.

 Some of the most important research laboratories in the world, like Harvard and the University of Denmark which has a dedicated indoor environment study centre, support studies with a common conclusion: air quality positively affects cognitive function of workers, increasing performance even as much as 61%.

People who work in well-ventilated environments, with low levels of CO2 and closed environment pollution achieve higher scores in working out strategies or planning activities compared to people working in closed, “less green” offices.

Poor aeration of the office can contribute to Sick Building Syndrome. SBS Syndrome is characterised by less serious symptoms but which affect staff absences and the professional quality of workers. They are mostly respiratory symptoms (congested nose and chest), but also cutaneous (dry skin) or other indicators like fatigue, drowsiness, headache, fever or muscular aches.

There are different types of possible pollutants that negatively affect workplace health. These are linked to various kinds of substances and elements:

  • biological, like for example mould and mildew, fungi and bacteria
  • physical, like electromagnetic fields and radon gas
  • chemical, like volatile organic and inorganic compounds

How can air quality in the office be improved?

  1. Get some fresh air in by opening the window
    This recommendation will only suit certain environments but let fresh air in every day.
  2. Keep the office clean
    Dust is one of the top threats to air quality! Don’t just clean surfaces, check under documents and various archives too.
  3. Keep humidity in check
    The humidity level should be between 30 and 50%, to prevent mould and mildew and other allergens from forming. The solution? An ordinary dehumidifier.
  4. If necessary, use an air purifier
    In rooms where windows can’t be opened or where a lot of smog comes in from outside, an air purifier is absolutely essential. An air purifier with a HEPA filter that also removes fine particulates is best.
  5. Clean/replace air filters regularly
    Air conditioners, dehumidifiers and air purifiers must be cleaned regularly, to prevent formation of dust, mould and mildew and other pathogens and/or pollutants.
  6. Bring some greenery into the room
    Certain plants clean the air by absorbing carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde. Our advice? Phalangium (also known as spider plant) and Pothos, evergreens that are easy to look after!

For companies, it is important to check indoor pollution in warehouses, offices and stores using special environmental parameter monitoring software. These tools allow real-time assessment of air quality, humidity, presence of radon gas, carbon dioxide concentration and other indices.

Just knowing what polluting substances are present in air inside makes it possible to act to make work environments healthier for staff, and and protect their personal well-being and the well-being of the company.