For many employees their working day is spent in an office building where dust, dirt and other irritants can build up, leaving workers susceptible to various ailments that can have an impact on their level of productivity. Conducting efficient monitoring of the indoor air quality can ensure that it is maintained at a good level, to provide a much pleasanter working environment for everyone.
The Problem of Indoor Air Quality
The indoor air quality of a building relates to any environmental factors that have an impact on comfort, health and performance. Around 90% of our day is spent indoors, and because the air is constantly being recycled, it can soon develop pollutants, which, along with humidity and air temperature, make up the characteristics of indoor air quality.
When there is poor indoor air quality it can result in a decrease in productivity, a rise in absenteeism and there is the risk of legal action for serious or long-term cases. The problems that can be linked to poor indoor air quality include irritation of the eyes, throat and nose, nausea and headaches, fatigue and dizziness.
There is also the risk of developing chronic and acute respiratory problems, such as asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, COPD, humidifier fever, systemic hypertension and Legionnaires disease. This is why it’s so important to conduct regular and effective indoor air quality monitoring to ensure levels are maintained at the appropriate standard.
Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
There are a number of areas that should be monitored when you’re assessing air quality and these are the main causes of respirable particulates and gases in the air. These include HVAC systems, coal and wood stoves, vehicle exhaust emissions, non-vented gas heaters, building materials, maintenance products, furniture and carpets, cleaning supplies and solvents.
Inadequate ventilation is one of the primary causes, as having the right levels of fresh air coming into a building can help to dilute the amount of pollutants present in the air. A HVAC system that is functioning correctly will result in a more comfortable environment, which should help to reduce the number of complaints received about the indoor air quality.
Ways of Assessing Indoor Air Quality
Two primary methods are used to monitor and assess indoor air quality – real-time measurements and integrated sampling.
Real-time indoor air quality monitoring can provide details on how levels of pollutants vary across the day and can detect particular sources of the problem so that you can work on a solution.
Alternatively, you can use integrated sampling, along with laboratory analysis, to give you the total levels of exposure for a specific pollutant. Samples are typically taken throughout a standard working day and then sent off for analysis.
By using one of these monitoring techniques you can identify the problems affecting air quality and work on ways of improving the situation. This can typically be achieved by eliminating the sources or reducing the levels of emissions from them, as well as improving ventilation.