6 Threats to the Air Quality of Your Office
Many people don’t realize that we spend about 90% of our time indoors. While we spend a lot of our time in our homes but we also spend a large part of our time in offices, commercial buildings and public buildings. The air quality in these locations can be compromised by furnishings that let off gas, combustion processes, and a number of biological and chemical contaminants. Here are six common, yet surprising culprits.
HVAC systems include the equipment used to ventilate, cool and heat a building and this system moves the air around the building in addition to filtering and cleaning it. The system can also become a source of pollutants when the air filters become contaminated with moisture or dirt. Oftentimes, the systems will circulate air from the outside into the building. This makes the location of the ventilation intake important because you do not want to be breathing chemicals or exhaust fumes from buses or cars.
Make sure the air filters are replaced regularly and that the HVAC systems are serviced by professionals.
Photocopiers and printers
Office printers and copiers are a common sight in most office settings yet they can leak toxic chemicals and emit toxic fumes that threaten air quality.
Make sure that printers and copiers are placed in areas that have adequate ventilation. These machines should have regular maintenance performed by professionals. Employees should always be careful when changing toner or ink cartridges and if they spill, they should be cleaned up quickly and the area aired out.
Offices do not always allow for fresh air from outdoors to flow in and so employees turn to air fresheners to cover up unpleasant odours or to simply provide a nice scent. Unfortunately, air fresheners contain toxic chemicals that can have a negative impact on your health.
Allowing fresh outdoor air to circulate is a better solution and when that is not possible, choose fresheners that only contain natural ingredients or essential oils.
If you are moving into a new commercial space or if your space is being renovated, you should be aware that many of the materials used in renovation and construction can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to the air quality.
Try to have renovation projects done on weekends and evenings to reduce the level of emissions in your office space. Plastic wrapping from partitions, carpet rolls and other new materials can be removed before they are brought into the office space. You can also ask that materials be aired out in a clean location outside the building before they are brought inside.
Many cleaning products contain unsafe chemical ingredients. Industrial strength cleaners, solvents, and adhesives that are used commercially or in offices can contain harmful compounds. Once opened, these products can continue to emit fumes.
It is advisable to always completely seal containers once they have been opened, store them in closed containers and dispose of unused product. Try to ventilate the area where they were used and to circulate fresh air.
Your office neighbours
Poor air quality is more common if you are sharing a ventilation system in a building that includes a variety of businesses. If you share a building with certain types of businesses, you may be exposed to higher levels of harmful chemicals.
If your neighbours include dry cleaners, printers, hair salons, nail salons or others enterprises that use chemicals in their daily operation, you may want to have the indoor air quality of your office checked.
Indoor air quality testing is one of the many services the professionals at Mose Home Inspection are asked to perform. Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need about your home or office, including your indoor air quality. Contact us for more information about indoor air quality testing.