The quality of air in your business affects the health of your employees, the condition of your equipment and fixtures, and the comfort of your commercial space. To protect your bottom line, you should understand how to assess, safeguard, and improve your indoor air quality. Here is what you need to know.
How to Assess Indoor Air Quality
You can test your business’s indoor air quality by hiring a specialist or by using a DIY test. Most tests on the market look for radon, mold, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and you should be able to find test kits at larger hardware stores or online.
Radon is a carcinogenic radioactive gas that is completely invisible, tasteless, and odorless; according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), levels should be below 4 picocuries per liter (4pCi/L). There are no federal guidelines on mold, but in most cases, if your indoor mold levels are higher than outdoor levels, that indicates mold is growing in your facility. VOCs include gasses from gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and kerosene, but paint, old carpets, and other items that are used daily in most commercial and residential environments can also off-gas VOCs.
Wondering if you should test your indoor air quality? Well, if you see a spike in employee sick days or if your employees are experiencing any of the following issues on a regular basis, you should test your air quality:
- Eye, ear, nose, and throat irritations
- Headaches or migraines
- Dry skin
- Unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Coughing or sneezing
In particular, you may have air quality issues if your employees experience these health issues at work, but the symptoms get better when they go home or when they are out of the building for a vacation.
The Importance of Indoor Air Quality
Most people spend the majority of their time indoors, and a lot of that time is at work. Unfortunately, the air indoors often has more toxins than the air outside. As a result, your employees — and your customers — may be inhaling toxins on a regular basis. This can increase the risk of allergies and reduce wellness.
When you have poor indoor air quality, your employees are likely to call in sick more often which has a negative effect on productivity levels and on your bottom line. Additionally, when employees are in subpar air conditions, their concentration can suffer, and they may make more mistakes. To safeguard your business, you need to focus on the quality of your indoor air.
In a lot of cases, buildings with poor indoor air quality also have issues with excessive humidity. When your commercial space has too much moisture in the air, mold and other contaminants start to thrive. The humidity can also damage wood, paper, and other items in your building. These are just a few of the reasons indoor air quality is important.
How to Improve Your Business’s Indoor Air Quality
Now that you understand the importance of indoor air quality, you may be wondering how to improve the quality of air in your space. To safeguard your business’s air, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure furniture, window treatments, desk, and equipment aren’t blocking air vents or grilles
- Change or clean filters on HVAC systems regularly
- Invest in plants that naturally purify your air
- Regularly dispose of garbage
- Consider hiring cleaning crews that use environmentally friendly cleaners to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxins
- Make sure no one smokes in your building and request smokers to stand a certain distance from doors
- Don’t position outdoor smoking areas under windows
- Replace old carpet or other allergen-harboring items in a timely fashion
- Invest in an air filtration system
- Have ducts cleaned regularly or consider investing in a ductless HVAC system
- Control humidity levels
- Think about implementing a policy banning strong fragrances in your office building
- Increase ventilation to bring more outside air into your business
What to Do If You’re Worried About Indoor Air Quality
If you’re worried about the quality of your business’s air, you can work through the tips outlined above to start to improve air quality. As a tenant in a large office or commercial building, contact your building manager, let them know that you’re worried about the quality of your air, and ask them what they do to safeguard indoor air quality.
Also, contact a commercial HVAC specialist. They can help you assess and improve your indoor air quality by cleaning ducts, improving ventilation, replacing filters, putting in new HVAC systems, and making other changes for you. To learn more, contact us at N.E.T.R., Inc. today.