While everyone talks about outdoors air pollution, very little attention is paid to the quality of air indoors. The quality of indoor air matters quite a lot, since we spend most of our day inside and have to breathe this air. Be it our home, workplace or any other building, the quality of the air goes a long way in determining our overall health as well as comfort level.
Indoor air quality in the workplace is extremely important, because it affects a lot of people and for a long duration of time. Also, health, comfort and employee productivity all depend to a large part on the environment and air quality.
What Determines Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
IAQ is dependent on a lot of factors, as any indoor air quality specialist would tell you. Ventilation, temperature and humidity are all important. Other factors which affect IAQ are the placement of air ducts, machines which release harmful radiations or emissions and general housekeeping and cleaning practices. Different gases have to be taken into account, the most important of which are oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
How Can You Improve IAQ In The Workplace?
There are many steps which can be taken to ensure good air quality in the workplace.
1. No Smoking
No one should be allowed to smoke indoors, as it creates smoke and toxins which are very harmful for health. There should be a specific smoking area designated for smokers and it should be outside the building.
This is perhaps the most important method through which you can improve IAQ. Fresh air is essential to flush out carbon dioxide and other contaminants present indoors, as well as to maintain a clean, comfortable environment.
HVAC not only maintains proper temperature, it also delivers fresh, clean air to the occupants of the building, thus controlling oxygen levels. A failure of this system can lead to poor IAQ.
3. Cleaning and Good Housekeeping
Your workplace should be as free of dust as possible. Cleaning tabletops and other surfaces regularly is a must. Vacuuming should also be done regularly. Using vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters is better as they trap particles and emit very few of them back into the air.
Vacuum cleaners can sometimes kick up dust from carpets rather than absorbing it. That is why using a wet mop once in a while is a good idea. Also ensure that bins are emptied and cleaned right away, as spoiling food and other garbage can not only release a terrible odor, it can also lead to spread of diseases.
Air that is very dry can be too uncomfortable to work in, as is air that is too humid. Aim to have a work environment where humidity is less than 65%. Fewer molds will grow in this humidity level, and people will also feel more comfortable.
A well-maintained air conditioning system can lead to better humidity.
5. Indoor Plants
Having indoor plants improves IAQ because these plants act as natural purifiers. They also improve oxygen levels in the building and get rid of excess carbon dioxide. Not to mention, they look really nice and give a positive, fresh look to the workplace.
6. Invest in Safer Furniture and Paint
Wooden furniture has often been treated with dangerous levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If at all possible, invest in furniture with safe, low levels of VOCs. Pressed wood usually has high levels, but you can ask the producer about them and try to buy safer furniture.
When you paint your building, paint one region at a time and let that part of the building dry completely and air out before you shift people back inside. This way, no one will have to endure the smell of new paint, or inhale the emitted chemicals.
Checking IAQ Is Very Important
You need to know whether your IAQ meets required local or international standards. To do this indoor air quality testing, you will need to hire a well-reputed indoor air quality specialist. These professionals will assess the quality of air inside your building and suggest solutions if required.
Indoor air quality professionals will test and analyze IAQ and then present a report, in which they will outline the problems, if any. Temperature, humidity and levels of different gases as well as chemicals are tested, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, and fungal count. Some good quality services like those provided by IAQ Consultants Singapore also let you conduct optional tests including tests such as identification for specific molds.
Once a diagnosis has been made, these experts will then guide you about solving the problems and improving your workplace environment. IAQ Consultants Singapore will also give you a detailed idea about the prerequisites for indoor environmental quality as stipulated in the Green Mark Certification, including managing optimal temperature, noise levels and minimum levels of toxins and pollutants.
Once your workplace is Green Mark Certified for Office Interior, you will have a better company image and the employees will have a safer, healthier environment to work in.
Therefore, you should get your IAQ checked and analyzed, particularly if you suspect a problem, and follow the guidelines to improve this quality. Only then can you hope to have a positive workplace in which people can work in harmony and realize their full potential.
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