How’s the Air Quality in Your Office?

Categories: Healthy Places, Workplace Wellness

Unmotivated? Sluggish? Frequent Colds? It could be that you need a breath of fresh air!

Have you been feeling sluggish and unmotivated and experiencing frequent colds since winter has arrived?

While you can chalk it up to the price you pay for living in a northern cli­mate, it could actually be the indoor air you are breathing — in your home, and in your office.

Air pollutants build up during the win­ter months when temperatures drop, and windows close. EPA studies reveal that indoor air pollution levels can routinely be close to five times higher than those found outdoors as a result of contaminants from tracked-in soil, chemical-laden cleaning products, in­efficient or unmaintained heating and cooling systems, and other factors.

Since you may spend as much time in your office as you do at home, it is important to make sure that the air quality in both places is monitored. Exposure to short-term, poor indoor air quality can cause inconvenient symptoms (such as sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and fatigue)*, however, over the long-term, medical experts say it can contribute to more serious problems such as asthma, lung disease, cancer and even dam­age to the neurological system.

HOW TO IMPROVE AIR QUALITY AT WORK

  • “Air out” your office daily. Fresh air (even if it’s cold air) is key to keeping your office healthy all winter long.
  • Place “scraper” floor mats out­side entrance ways to remove soil­ing from shoes and place walk-off carpeted mats just inside entrances to capture any residual particulates. And all mats should be cleaned regu­larly.
  • Make sure floors are mopped after vacuuming to remove any contam­inants left behind. Use microfiber mops and dusting cloths, since they capture more soiling than traditional cotton products without the need for excess potentially harmful cleaning solutions.
  • Furnaces, heating, and cooling equipment should be cleaned peri­odically to prevent gas build-up/discharge; ask those who maintain your office building to replace filters regularly to help avoid harmful par­ticles from circulating throughout the office in the winter.
  • It is helpful to use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to keep indoor humidity in the 30-50 percent range — a level that helps keep mold, dust mites, and other allergens at bay.
  • Use indoor plants to keep pollutants at bay. Adding air purifying plants to your work site can help to improve indoor air qual­ity naturally, and can even improve your memory and concentration!

*SICK BUILDING SYNDROME

NASA astronauts are experts on sick building syndrome. After all, they must live inside sealed space stations with no access to fresh air. Here on earth, NASA has discovered sick building syndrome can similarly happen to people who work or live in a building that is sealed due to weather (hot or cold temperatures). People work­ing in these buildings may exhibit these symptoms:

headaches

  • nausea
  • irritation in the eyes, throat, or nose
  • coughing
  • dry or itchy skin
  • inability to focus
  • allergies

How do you know it is your office causing these problems? Easy: The symptoms go away when you leave the building (note, particularly how you feel on the weekends when you are away from the building for a longer period of time). Interested in learning ways to healthier at your worksite? Contact the worksite wellness team today!