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Posted by Seyi Onadeko, May 01, 2021
We might not be able to see impurities in the air we breathe in the office, but these are more common than you’d think and can have some pretty serious effects on you and your staff’s health and productivity.
Especially after the world was rocked by COVID-19, more attention has been given to the work environment and how it can affect people’s well-being. With many symptoms of the so-called “sick building syndrome” (SBS) being similar to the flu or even the Coronavirus, it’s important that every office evaluates its air quality and takes adequate measures to improve it where necessary.
With this in mind, today’s blog post will focus on the causes and effects of poor indoor air quality and what you can do about it. Let’s jump right in.
There are many factors that contribute to poor office air quality. Obviously, if your workplace is in a large, urban hub, you’ll have some pollution coming from outside. This isn’t the whole picture, though, because even in large cities, air quality inside is often two to five times worse than outside. So what else affects indoor air quality?
As we spoke about in our article on allergies in the workplace, invisible allergens such as dust, mould and pet dander can all take their toll on people’s health in the workplace. These can easily be harboured by cluttered desks and infrequently cleaned carpets and corners, getting re-released into the air when shifting things around or walking.
Poor building standards and materials shouldn’t be ignored, either, as things like formaldehyde and fibreglass can have negative effects on your indoor air quality. Similarly, poorly maintained water tanks, air filtration systems and similar things can all take their toll on air quality.
Lastly, we need to talk about carbon dioxide. High CO2 levels indoors are caused by poor ventilation, leading to lower levels of oxygen in the air.
As you’ll remember from your school biology classes, we inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. That’s why a small room with lots of people can get stuffy quickly if you don’t prop a window open. High levels of CO2 in the air can lead to some serious side effects, as we’ll discuss below.
We already mentioned the term “sick building syndrome”. It’s used to refer to the varied symptoms that indoor air pollution can have on our health. Respiratory systems, skin and neurological functioning can all be affected, but the good news is that these symptoms should ease once the person is out of the indoor space causing these issues. Some of the most common symptoms of SBS include:
As you can see from the above, the symptoms caused by poor indoor air quality can be debilitating, causing sick days and eating into productivity.
UK estimates put premature deaths caused by poor indoor air quality at 20,000 per year, and seeing as people commonly spend about a third of their lives at work, your office’s indoor air quality isn’t something you can ignore.
While symptoms of SBS usually subside very quickly after removing yourself from the indoor space causing the issues, long-term exposure to indoor pollutants can have more serious consequences, including heart disease some cancers.
High levels of CO2 in the air can be particularly bad for productivity as they cause cognitive issues and can lower productivity by up to 11%.
So it’s clear that poor air quality can not only cause more sick days among your staff – it can also have a big negative impact on the people who do make it to the office.
The number one thing you should do is ensure air is circulating well in your workplace. If it has windows, keep these open when the weather permits. Prop doors open, too, to help air circulate better.
You should also keep tabs on your office’s air filtration and ventilation systems. Make sure nothing is blocking these and that you replace air filters regularly, at least every 6-12 months, to avoid them becoming blocked.
The importance of a good contract cleaning service shouldn’t be underestimated, either. As we already mentioned, things like dust and mould spores love a messy environment. Regular vacuuming, dusting, decluttering and disinfecting will help to eliminate pollutants from your office air.
Your building’s air ducts should also be cleaned every few years. And as dust mites and mould spores both thrive in humid environments, it’s also important to clean up spills immediately.
If your office is poorly ventilated, the cleaning products your commercial cleaning company uses could also contribute to poor indoor air quality: harsh chemicals without ventilation can be a real recipe for disaster. If you’re worried about the effects of cleaning chemicals on your office air quality, talk to your cleaning company about the products they use.
Controlling moisture levels within your workplace will help avoid mould and mildew developing. Ideally, indoor air should have a moisture level between 30% and 50%. If necessary, you can use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to control humidity levels in the office.
Finally, bringing the outside in in the form of some office plants can help everyone breathe easier. Some good, low-maintenance plants for indoor air quality include spider plants, snake plants, peace lilies and golden pothos. Make sure to not overwater these to avoid mould from forming on the top of the soil.
A solid office cleaning service can do wonders for your indoor air quality. That’s why you need to be able to depend on your commercial cleaning service to provide you with a thorough and consistent service every time. With high-calibre staff training, quality assurance and impeccable customer service at the heart of our offering, Glenn Cleaning & Support Services can help. With additional services including carpet cleaning, waste management and specialist cleaning available, we can build you a custom quote that takes into account your unique work environment and its needs.
Set up your cleaning contract or simply ask a question. We’re here to help.
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