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The Role of Ventilation in Workplace Indoor Air Quality

August 28, 2017

Causes of Poor Air Quality

The air quality in your office is a major factor in the overall health and wellbeing of your employees – not to mention the productivity levels at your company.

A workplace can be negatively affected by a lack of fresh air circulation, pollution drawn in from outdoors, indoor pollution with no means of escape, air that is circulated too fast, or humidity that is high enough to promote the growth of mold.

Read on to learn more about poor indoor air quality and its negative effects, as well as how you can start improving the air in your office today.

Oftentimes, poor ventilation is the result of an effort to go green.

Ventilation may unfortunately be sacrificed in the process of building energy-efficient, air-tight offices. Within these offices, recirculated air can trap chemicals, allergens, mold, and other contaminants that begin to weigh on the building’s air quality.

Poor indoor air quality can by caused by a great range of factors, including:

  • Bacteria and microorganisms in the ventilation system
  • Ozone and radiation from copiers and building insulation
  • Off-gassing and emissions from carpets, cleaning compounds, glues, and particle board
  • Carbon monoxide from traffic, smoking, and over-occupied or poorly ventilated areas
  • Moisture due to high humidity, leaks, or water damage

Health Effects of Poor Air Quality

Poor air quality can cause symptoms that seem to be present only while you’re at the workplace and abate once you’ve left for the day.

“Sick building syndrome” is a phenomenon that encompasses many of these issues and can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including prolonged allergies, cold symptoms, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing. This syndrome commonly emerges in workers employed within buildings and offices that do not have proper ventilation. Other times, the health effects are more serious.

The particulates, allergens, and airborne contaminants that become trapped inside a poorly ventilated office can exacerbate asthma and other breathing conditions, and off-gassing and emissions can also cause headaches, trouble concentrating, and increased absenteeism among exposed workers.

Fortunately, these health issues can be alleviated by implementing proper ventilation within the workplace.

Testing and Improving Air Quality

Creating and adhering to a routine air-quality checklist can help maintain adequate ventilation and indoor air quality within the workplace.

Check your air quality by reviewing the temperature, humidity, airflow, presence of odors, water damage, dirt, dust, and standing water throughout the building. Review contaminant-causing operations like maintenance and remodeling work, as well as changes in personnel and employee habits.

You may also want to look into different ventilation systems or check up on your existing systems:

  • Natural Ventilation: Ensure there is adequate natural ventilation throughout the workplace to remove moisture that can foster mold.
  • Mechanical Ventilation: The filtering process of HVAC systems helps to trap small particles and allergens. Electronic air filters and HEPA filters can capture small particles and contaminants, removing them from circulating air.
  • Dehumidifiers: In warmer climates, a dehumidifying ventilation system helps keep relative humidity to a reasonable level: 30% to 60%. Dehumidification is also important in cooler climates, where indoor activities can increase humidity behind closed doors, without the aid of natural ventilation.
  • Low-VOC/HAP Products: When painting, carpeting, remodeling, or using cleaners and other substances within the workplace, elect to use low-VOC and low-HAP products.

Proper ventilation is vital to good indoor air quality. Ventilation brings in fresh air, helps circulate stagnant air, and removes particulates, allergens, and pollutants, increasing the daily productivity and health of your valuable workers.

Contact Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating today and speak to our expert team about the indoor air quality needs at your workplace.

About The Author

Bob Jenson

For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.

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