The quality of indoor air is very important. An average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors and takes around 17,000 to 23,000 breaths per day. Consequently, indoor air is at least a thousand times more polluted than outdoor air. As per the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality is 5 times worse than outdoor air quality. This can affect your performance at work as well as your health, and you must carry out a ventilation system evaluation to check the quality of indoor air.
Factors Responsible for Poor Indoor Air Quality
Air contaminants can originate from various sources that exist inside and outside of the office building. These include:
The use of cleaning chemicals can often disrupt the quality of indoor air. These can contain volatile organic compounds that release irritants in the form of vapors. Other airborne chemicals that are commonly found in offices come from tobacco smoke, cosmetics, fragrances, respiration, and perspiration. Chemicals used for office equipment can also contaminate the air. For instance, chemicals used to operate printers and copy machines or those found on office furnishings, etc.
Inadequate Maintenance of HVAC Systems
Poor maintenance of the HVAC systems in the office can also affect indoor air quality. For instance, if there is an imbalance in the amount of air that is removed and supplied by the HVAC system, then this can create negative air pressure inside the building. This difference in pressure between indoor air and outdoor air can cause unconditioned air to enter the building. This air carries a variety of contaminants that pollute indoor air. The design of the HVAC system can also influence the quality of indoor air in your office building. Make sure you call a professional for ventilation system evaluation to address such issues.
Microbial growth can also affect the quality of indoor air. Damp materials, stagnant water, and dusty surfaces provide a favorable environment for microorganisms. These microbes release odorous compounds and other airborne particles that contaminate the air. Workers may also develop allergic reactions due to these compounds.
Other air contaminants include pollen, fungi, and dust.
Tips for Improving the Quality of Indoor Air
There are several things you can do to improve the quality of indoor air. These include:
- Making sure your HVAC systems are in accordance with the guidelines defined by the American Society of Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- Making sure that factors such as humidity, temperature, and air movement are within an acceptable range (as defined by ASHRAE)
- Keeping the surfaces of mechanical equipment clean
- Promptly identifying and controlling sources of biological and chemical contamination
- Making sure that any equipment releasing a large number of emissions is kept away from the main work area.
- Having good housekeeping practices in place