Your Ultimate Guide to Office Building Air Quality
Whether you’re a building owner, property manager, office administrator or concerned employee, you need to know what indicates poor indoor air quality! Working in a building every day with poor air quality can cause sickness, a drop in productivity, drowsiness, allergies, and worse symptoms in people. It’s important to establish good air quality for your employees to stay healthy and productive. Now you’re probably busy wondering what indicates poor air quality so you can run out of your office and check, so here are some indications:
If you notice a bad smell in your office or you’re receiving complaints from your employees of a bad smell in the office, then you have your first sign of poor air quality. The smells may range from simply unpleasant to downright musty, making the building feel hot and stuffy inside. Employee complaints of a bad smell causing headaches, throat, nose, or eye irritation or fatigue are a good indication that you’re dealing with gaseous contaminants damaging your office’s indoor air quality.
Sickness Spreads Quickly
Have you noticed when one employee gets sick, other employees are quickly infected? Even if they don’t work near the first sick person! Allergies, flus and common colds will spread like wildfire across an office with poor air quality. These airborne infections spread by traveling on dust particles or microscopic respiratory droplets, which form when someone sneezes or coughs. So even people who aren’t even close to the infected person can pick up the virus or bacteria.
These particles can travel easily through buildings with poor air quality because the air filtration system won’t remove them. You can improve your air quality by having an expert come in and measure the air particles in your office to help you choose the right air filtration system which will eliminate the virus and bacteria from the air.
Symptoms Disappear When You Leave the Building
If you, or your employees, notice they feel sick, achy and stuffy while they’re at work, but they feel healthy again when they leave the building for an extended period of time, then you have an air quality problem. If you only notice cold or allergy symptoms while you’re in the building, then something in the air is affecting you. This is known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), which occurs when building occupants feel symptoms of sickness which are related to the amount of time they spend in the specific building.
Now you know how to tell if you have poor air quality in your building, but how do you fix it?
First, it helps to know what causes poor air quality. The most common causes are:
- Lack of fresh, outdoor air in your building
- Poor ventilation of air
- Lack of maintenance on ventilation and HVAC systems
- Dampness or moisture in the building from flooding or leaking
- Construction or remodeling in the building
- Dust particles or other contaminants employees track in the building
Once you’ve narrowed down the cause(s) of air pollution in your office building, then you can start considering some of the following methods to control your air quality…
Source Control or Removal
The most effective method for controlling air quality depends on the source. For instance, back in the day you could smoke in your office building. But tobacco smoke pollutes the air in the building, so many buildings, restaurants and even homes have removed the source of a contaminant by no longer allowing smoking inside the structure.Let employees know to use chemical cleaning solutions sparingly, as these can contaminate the air and cause headaches and reactions in employees.
Update Your Ventilation System
Call a professional HVAC technician to inspect the air in your building and ensure your current HVAC and ventilation system is the proper size and efficiency for your building. We can also check for other problems in your system which may cause poor air circulation, such as clogs or dirty filters. If you’re not performing routine, preventative maintenance on your HVAC system, then you’re putting all your building occupants at risk of spreading sickness or developing SBS.
Whether you’re a building owner, office manager, or employee, these are things you can do to prevent poor air quality in the office building where you spend the majority of your day…
- Avoid blocking air vents or air grilles so you don’t cause an unbalance in the building’s HVAC system.
- Only smoke in designated areas outside of the building.
- Throw away your trash immediately, don’t leave it sitting out on the counter for days!
- Clean up any water or liquid spills as soon as they occur.
- If you notice any unpleasant or musty smells, or any other signs of poor air quality, report it to your manager immediately.