In all workplaces, staff, customers and visitors to the building should reasonably expect to be breathing clean air. Unfortunately though, that isn’t the case, with many buildings across the country suffering from poor indoor air quality (IAQ).
Generally, the causes for decreased air quality revolve around HVAC systems. With poorly maintained heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, the risk of poor air quality increases sharply.
Contaminated air is a serious health risk
The air we breathe everywhere can contain contaminants such as bacteria, pollen and viruses. These are commonly known as airborne contaminants, and they present a serious risk to public health.
However, inside a building, the effects of poor air quality are amplified because the area is enclosed. Without the correct ventilation systems in place, people in a confined space breathe the same air all day.
Fine particle pollution in the air we breathe can have both short and long-term risks, causing a range of health problems.
How do airborne contaminants affect the human body?
Without getting too scientific, fine particles in the air are usually grouped by their size. The aerodynamic diameter of a particle is known as a micron, and leading health organisations have identified three specific sizes of particles that pose the biggest threat.
Particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 micron can deposit in the nose and pharynx of the human respiratory system. Smaller particles, at 2.5 micron can find their way into the lungs and deposit in the bronchia. On the most dangerous end of the scale, 1 micron particles are small enough to get through the cell membranes of the alveoli in the lungs, thus working their way into the blood stream and causing significant life-threatening diseases.
Just how small is particulate contamination?
These fine particles, as we mentioned, are measured by their aerodynamic diameter. To demonstrate the size of these particles, let’s consider a piece of human hair. While the size will vary, hair is generally between 20-200 micrometres.
Influenza virus particles are 0.08 – 0.12 micrometres. The SARS virus and the recent coronavirus has similar sized particles. Basically, particulate contamination isn’t visible to the human eye, but they still pose a serious health risk.
How to improve air quality in the workplace
Proper air filtration systems have been shown to reduce the risk of airborne contamination. The way these virus contaminants work is by travelling on larger particles, and this is how they make their way through a building’s air control systems.
To protect your staff and others against airborne virus particles, you can follow a few simple steps.
- Conduct indoor air quality and indoor environment quality testing
- Have your HVAC systems checked with professional hygiene testing
Once this testing is done, your air quality assessors will be able to recommend the best course of action. It may be installing better air filters in your HVAC systems, such as high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
Maintaining good air quality in the workplace is essential for the safety of your employees, customers and anybody else who enters your building.
For a happier, healthier workforce, contact us to have your air quality thoroughly tested today.