How to notice that there are problems with air quality in the workplace?
The average adult inhales about 15 kg of air, drinks 1.5 liters of water, and eats about 1 kg of solid food a day. Thus, inhaled air makes up about 87% of the total daily intake of biomass. When consuming foods, a lot of attention is paid to their purity, but what about the air?
Like poor nutrition, polluted indoor air can increase the risk of health problems, from respiratory illnesses to infections, as well as lower working capacity and overall quality of life, and affect mental health. When you spend a lot of your time indoors, it is important to make sure that air quality is not harmful to your health.
Do you find it difficult to concentrate and feel tired?
If you regularly experience discomfort while staying in a particular building or room, this may indicate a “sick building syndrome” (SBS) caused by bacteria, viruses, dust and pollen, wall panels used in building finishes, environmental tobacco smoke, chemicals, emitted from printers, paints, fuel combustion products, and pollution entering the room from the outdoor environment. The symptoms caused by SBS usually appear after a few hours in the room and they disappear when the building is left. Many of these symptoms can be caused by other health conditions, including colds or flu, and are not always associated with poor air quality. This fact can make it difficult to identify and solve the problem, but it is worth noting the following signs: dryness and irritation (of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin), headache, tiredness, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity, and allergies, coughing, and sneezing dizziness, and nausea. In a Swedish study of the office environment, more than 30% of men and more than 50% of women had at least one symptom of SBS once a week. It should be noted that SBS most often occurs in people who are allergic, sensitive to sun exposure, women, and people who do not like their occupation.
What to do if you have observed SBS or preventive measures to be taken:
- Room ventilation must be improved
- Replace carpets with linoleum or tiles
- The premises must be cleaned regularly
- Room ozonation can be performed to destroy allergenic particles and volatile organic compounds
- Make sure that the humidifier does not cause biological contamination
- Air ventilation systems must be cleaned regularly
The thermometer shows the optimal temperature, but the body feels discomfort
The human body needs to feel thermal comfort so that the mind can be in the mood for productive work. Thermal comfort is a cumulative effect caused by environmental and personal factors. Environmental factors include air temperature, relative humidity, airflow rate, and objects that emit heat. No less important are personal factors – clothing and the warmth created by the metabolism. Thermal comfort directly affects satisfaction with the indoor microclimate and also the level of energy in the work environment, so it is necessary to control the microclimate parameters, for example, by opening a window and adjusting mechanical ventilation and air conditioning settings, controlling cold and heat, thus regulating the airflow. One of the basic needs of the body is to perform thermoregulation, as well as to maintain a constant internal body temperature within a certain range. If the workplace is too hot or too cold, providing this function to the body can become a challenge.
What to do if an allergy worsens in the workplace?
There may be a variety of irritants in the work environment that can exacerbate allergies and asthma. If the specific allergen that is causing the allergic symptoms cannot be avoided, allergy pills, nasal sprays, and eye drops can be used to reduce the symptoms. To reduce the impact of the premises, it is recommended to maintain the humidity level in the workplace from 40 to 60%. If the air is wetter or drier, there is a possibility of allergens multiplying, as well as creating additional irritation and susceptibility to allergens. People with asthma, allergies, and other hypersensitivity traits are particularly vulnerable to indoor irritants.
1. Cleanliness in the workplace.
A clean workplace has lower levels of mold, dust, allergens, and contaminants that could spread through the air. Environmentally friendly cleaning agents that do not emit strong chemical compounds into the air must be used for cleaning.
2. Efficient air ventilation system.
A customized HVAC system maintains an optimal amount of fresh air and provides the necessary microclimate requirements. It should be noted that placing large furniture, storage boxes, or cabinets in front of the ventilation openings makes it difficult to circulate air. HVAC systems need to be cleaned and filters replaced regularly to prevent dust and other air pollutants from circulating in the indoor air. Clogged filters can reduce airflow and accelerate the accumulation of contaminants indoors.
3. Carry out air testing regularly!
Indoor air testing will provide useful information for the implementation of a targeted and effective air quality improvement plan.