For human beings, breathing clean air is critical for staying in good health. Poor air quality can make you sick, and if pollutants are present, exposure can sometimes cause respiratory disease or cancer.
Commercial offices don’t usually have fresh air circulating around, and they can become quite stuffy. Since the air is recirculated, it’s extremely important for office managers to stay on top of changing filters, cleaning ductwork, regular maintenance, and calling for repairs when needed.
If you operate your business out of a commercial office, it’s critical that your HVAC and ventilation system be in good repair and provide clean air throughout the building. Employees expect the companies they work for to maintain a safe working environment, and that includes having clean air to breathe.
Why Clean Air Supports Health
The human body is designed to breathe in fresh, clean air. When this need isn’t met due to pollution, it puts a strain on the entire body. Polluted air has an especially negative impact on the cardiovascular system and can worsen heart disease and increase the possibility of stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and asthma.
These health risks increase the more a person is exposed to dirty air, and since most people spend about 90% of their time indoors, exposure tends to be high and long-term.
When it comes to your office, good air quality will keep your team more productive and feeling better overall. Poor air quality in an office makes people more likely to be sluggish and not complete tasks on time. The better the people in your office feel, the more alert they will be throughout the day.
The Most Common Air Pollutants Are:
- Byproducts from vehicle emissions, like particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- Allergens (pollen, mold)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Dust and dirt
- Bacteria and viruses
- Carbon monoxide
- Paint fumes and solvents
- Combustion gases
While some of these pollutants are generally found outside, they can easily end up indoors. Your mechanical ventilation system is supposed to bring in air from the outside, filter it, and then circulate it throughout the space.
If it’s not working properly, the air might not be getting filtered properly and/or you could end up with contaminants building up and being recirculated.
6 Signs of Bad Air Quality in an Office
If you notice the following signs, get your indoor air quality tested right away.
1) Your Employees Are Coughing or Sneezing
The contaminants in dirty air usually cause enough irritation to make people cough and sneeze. If people in your office are coughing, sneezing, or having difficulty breathing, it might be caused by poor air quality. Provided your team doesn’t have an existing health issue with the same symptoms, this is a good sign your indoor air quality needs improvement.
2) Allergic Reactions Are Increasing
Some of your employees will have allergies that can’t be avoided. However, if you notice an increase in allergic reactions from staff who never had issues before, this could be a sign of poor air quality.
For people with existing allergies, dirty air can aggravate their symptoms. If employees with known allergies start to feel worse, this is a sign that your air filtration system needs some attention.
3) Body Pain, Like Headaches and Nausea
Breathing in air full of contaminants can irritate the body in many ways, including by inducing headaches and nausea. This usually comes from inhaling the lingering fumes of paint, pesticides, and cleaning products. If your office is located on a busy road, you might have carbon monoxide fumes coming inside.
4) Skin Irritation
You may not always think about it this way, but skin is the body’s largest organ and it absorbs polluted air through hair follicles. This can cause an increase in dry and irritated skin.
If you see people in your office struggling with dry skin, it’s a sign the air quality could be poor. Some people with existing skin issues may not notice right away, but given enough time, they tend to get worse.
5) High Levels of Dust
If you notice plenty of dust accumulating on window sills, unused flat surfaces, and the floor, it’s a sign that your indoor air quality is poor. Therefore, you probably need to upgrade your office filtration system.
6) A Bad Odor in the Air
A lingering odor suggests there’s something in the air that you don’t want to breathe. It could be a build-up of mold and mildew in your HVAC system’s ducts, or it could be a general sign that your system needs some maintenance.
How to Test the Air Quality in Your Office
If you suspect the indoor air quality in your office is bad, get it tested right away. The best way to go about this is to have it professionally checked. Testing indoor air quality requires using specific equipment that takes experience and training to use and interpret the results. It’s not a quick test, and many professionals prefer testing an area over a period of 24 hours or longer.
When a professional tests your office’s indoor air quality, they’ll also check the outdoor air quality to see how it compares. The indoor quality should be much cleaner, and if that’s not the case, then it could be time to service your ventilation system.
After testing, you’ll know the status of your air quality, and you can call a professional to implement the right air filtration solution for your office. You might need a good HVAC duct cleaning, filter replacements, or a whole new mechanical ventilation system. It’s also possible that you’ll benefit from distributing various standalone air purifiers in key areas of the building.
When you improve your indoor air, your team will be more productive, and you’ll be protecting their health. Clean air also reduces your legal liability from potential future lawsuits.
You don’t have to suffer with poor indoor air quality in your office. Connect with a professional to get your air tested, and they’ll help you implement the ideal solution for your business.