How to improve the quality of air in the office?

In this blog post, we will discuss “How to improve, Therefore, the in the office?” First, this article will also outline information about indoor air pollution. Then, it will also discuss indoor air quality (IAQ) and why we should care about it. Secondly, this article will also emphasise the significance of good indoor air quality in the office. Lastly, we will talk about the effective ways to improve the quality of air in the office.

How to improve the quality of air in the office?

There are various ways through which you can improve air quality in the office. The below-mentioned factors can improve the air quality of the office:

  • The layout of the office 
  •  Proper ventilation 
  • Air purifiers 
  •  Humidifiers 
  •  Dehumidifiers 
  • An intelligent selection of indoor furniture 
  • Correct selection of cleaning products 
  •  Following the norms of Environment Health and safety of an organisation 
  • Indoor plants

Before we discover each of these points in detail, let’s discuss air pollution in short.

What is air pollution, and how bad it is?

The introduction of harmful agents in the atmosphere or air is called air pollution. These toxic agents are called pollutants. These pollutants can be present in liquid droplets, solid particles or a gaseous state.

In addition, these pollutants can be chemical and biological. Examples of contaminants are NOx, SOX, CO, etc.

The various sources of air pollution are vehicular traffic and energy generation and consumption, agriculture and combustion of fossil fuel, burning of solid waste in the public open spaces. In addition, natural sources such as wildfires, volcanic eruptions and sand or dust storm are responsible for poor air quality.

There are two types of air pollution, namely, indoor air pollution and outdoor air pollution.

The researchers have concluded that indoor air pollution can also cause equivalent harm that of outdoor air pollution.

Let’s discuss indoor air pollution ahead.

What is indoor air pollution?

The presence of chemical, biological and physical contaminants within or inside any structure is known as indoor air pollution. Pollutants are pollens, animal fur, viruses, bacteria, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, radon, etc.

What is indoor air quality (IAQ), and why you should care about it?

The indoor air quality is determined by how the person’s health, comfort and productivity are affected. Poor indoor air quality in the schools can affect the academic performance of the students.

Some of the symptoms of bad air quality in the structure are common cold and cough, sneezing, memory-lapse, dizziness and fatigue. Poor indoor air quality can also cause sick building syndrome.

Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has observed that less productivity and affected well-being of the employees can cause absenteeism, affecting the growth of the economy.

However, there is no need to worry much as the effects mentioned earlier are temporary and are mainly easy to treat.

As they say,” Prevention is better than cure.”, here are some ways to improve indoor air quality at the office.

What are the ways to improve indoor air quality at the office?

 The layout of the office

The appropriate layout of the office can prevent indoor air pollution. The interiors of the office should be as spacious as possible. Countries lying in the tropical zone should keep an office layout in the combination of outdoors and indoors.

This consideration would allow for good airflow in the office. Designated engineers should be consulted to conduct a radon levels test if the office location is in the basement level. High levels of radon can cause lung cancer.

Proper ventilation

Proper ventilation can be achieved by opening doors and windows, provided the temperature and humidity levels permit. One of the most significant advantages of natural sunlight and temperature is keeping the air fresh and rotating.

Try doing the practice of opening doors and windows once a week or in a fortnight if the conditions prevail.

Objects such as furniture should not be kept in front of the windows or any form of air vent. An organisation should take utmost care of maintaining the ventilation path free of obstruction for good air circulation. 

One of the critical aspects is that ducts of central heating systems and air conditioning systems should be frequently maintained and repaired if necessary.

These duct systems prevent the entry of dust particles into the office. In addition, this ritual will help to stop unavoidable mould growth inside a hard surface.

Ducts can also be infested with rodents. Rodents are the source of many diseases and viruses. In addition, irregular cleaning of duct system can cause over-accumulation of dust and dirt particles, resulting in the entry of particulates into the office. 

Engineers should install exhaust fans in toilets and pantry rooms to maintain the circulation of healthy air. In addition, passive systems and radon ventilation fans can reduce levels of radon in the basement office.

  Air purifiers

 It is challenging to open the doors and windows for cross ventilation in regions having the worst ambient air quality. It’s also difficult to open them in harsh winter seasons. In such cases, air purifiers can come to the rescue.

Air purifiers are convenient as they nearly eliminate all toxic elements present in the indoor air. In addition, air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants. HEPA is an acronym for “High-Efficiency Particulate Air (filter)” and it is defined by the U.S. Department of Energy. I recommend an air purifier with having a good quality HEPA filter because it’s a type of pleated mechanical air filter which filters out particulates with a size of 0.3 microns. 

While most air purifiers filter only particulate matter (PM), purifiers having carbon filters can absorb gas and chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), SOX and NOx.

Like the duct systems, it is also necessary to maintain the filter’s hygiene. 

If not properly maintained, it can get clogged, causing disturbed airflow and its function. Therefore, the cleaning department of the office should clean its filters or, if possible, replace them after 6 to 12 months. 

Above, I have some of the best models of Air purifiers to use in the office. The HEPA filters come along with these purifiers and can be purchased from the same brand if your purifiers’ filters are non-washable. 

Air purifiers I recommend

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns. Also responsible to reduce more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO. Washable and permanent pre-filters are available 
Blueair Pure 121Includes 3-part filtration system. Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) as well as smoke caused by wildfires.

 Humidifiers 

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control.

 Humidifiers are used in both- summer and winter seasons—a cool-mist humidifier is mainly used in the winter when the air is dehydrated. However, in the summer season, due to sweaty and sweltering heat, a humidifier can help control the room’s humidity levels.

 When AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend 

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsCan be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierCan be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifier also works similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers which I recommend 

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayCan be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

 A smart selection of indoor furniture

There should be an intelligent selection of indoor furnishings. For example, the sofas selected in the reception area or any other place should not have fabric. Fabric sofas attract lots of dirt and dust, and it isn’t easy to maintain.

Opt for resin sofas as they are easy to clean and maintain. Avoid choosing plastic curtains for the office. Plastic curtains, when in contact with sunlight, cause the generation of VOCs.

There should be proper maintenance of curtains as particulate matters can get accumulated on them. Likewise, keeping carpet in the office area should be avoided. Carpets can also be a good spot for dust, dirt, pollens and allergens.

Materials used during construction such as insulation, cabinetry, carpeting and furniture, which are made of pressed wood and paint, release a small number of toxins persistently for a long time.

Thus, the minimum amount of such products should be selected while planning the interiors of the office. Moreover, it is also advisable to throw off the old furniture if not in good quality.

Correct selection of cleaning products

An organisation should avoid fresheners and potent disinfectant agents having high levels of chemicals. These products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aromatic poly hydrocarbons, which can cause irritation in the lungs and cause horrible consequences. Instead, use if herbal disinfectants should be used.

 

Following the norms of Environment Health and Safety (EHS) of an organisation

Employees should follow the rules set up by the EHS of an organisation for their well-being religiously.

Firstly, smoking should not be allowed inside the house. Active as well as passive smoking is equally affected due to the smoke created by cigarettes. Secondly, any person having even a common cold or cough should avoid working in the office. The virus or allergens from the infected person can spread and contaminate other colleagues.

Lastly, the EHS team should conduct sessions to help to boost the lungs health. For example, they can perform breathing exercises or pranayama to monitor breathing function and rejuvenate your mind.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants are natural air purifiers of indoor air pollution. These indoor plants can absorb toxins from the air. Many indoor plants have a gift to absorb hazardous contaminants such as benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, for example, snake plants and golden pothos. Other plants such as garden mum and dracaena cleanse the air by breathing contaminants like trichloroethylene and ammonia. These plants are easy to care for.

These solutions can improve the air quality very effectively and boost the employees’ productivity and outcomes.

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

What are the causes and solutions of air pollution?

How to reduce stuffiness in a room?

Symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke

Conclusion 

This blog post discussed “How to improve the quality of air in the office?”. First, we also understood indoor air pollution in short. Secondly, the article also emphasised indoor air quality (IAQ) and why we should care about it. Finally, we also realised the importance of the indoor air quality index in the office in addition to it. In the end, the write-up also provided solutions to improve the quality of air in the office.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to improve the quality of air in the office?

 

What are the major indoor air pollutants?

As per the Environmental Protection Agency, the major indoor air pollutants are moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, radon, pesticides, dust particles, viruses and bacteria. They create a damp and stuffy house.

What is good indoor air quality?

Good indoor air quality has the following factors:

·        Temperatures should range from 68.5 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter season

·        The temperature should range from 75 to 80.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer season.

·        Indoor relative humidity should be equal to or less than 65%

·        The EPA  has recommended humidity levels between 30-60% to reduce mould growth. 

How can I check the air quality in my house?

The air quality in your house can be checked by doing the following:

·        Invest in a good air quality monitor

·        Test for mould in the air

·        An organisation can use carbon monoxide alarms to detect carbon monoxide in the air. ( I recommend this one because if CO leaks, it detects the poisonous gas and can give early warnings ).

·        conduct a radon test as high radon levels can affect your health seriously.

What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the office?

Symptoms of bad air quality in the office are common cold, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, dizziness, and fatigue. However, these symptoms are temporary and are treatable.

Why is my indoor air quality so bad?

 Your indoor air quality might be bad mainly because of poor ventilation systems of the indoors and the presence of sources releasing gases or particles into the air.

How bad is indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality can be responsible for any adverse effects such as headaches, respiratory ailments, chronic cough, sore throat, lethargy and memory lapses. In addition, long-term effects may result in an increased risk of cancer.

References

CoolMistHumidifier.org. 2021. When Should You Use A Humidifier (Summer or Winter)?. [online] Available at https://coolmisthumidifier.org/need-for-cool-mist-humidifiers/

Nirmitee Robotics. 2021. 7 Tips to improve indoor air quality in your office – Nirmitee Robotics. [online] Available at https://www.nirmiteerobotics.com/improve-indoor-air-quality-office/

Service Master Clean. 2021. 9 Ways To Improve Air Quality In Your Office. [online] Available at https://www.servicemasterclean.com/clean-blog/office-cleaning/9-ways-to-improve-air-quality-in-your-office/

US EPA. 2021. An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality | US EPA. [online] Available at https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/office-building-occupants-guide-indoor-air-quality

US EPA. 2021. Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? | US EPA. [online] Available at https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned  

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