What About The Air Pollution In Your Workplace?
The vast majority of people spend about 90% of the day, and most of the night, indoors. For them, and probably you, air quality is a major concern. These concerns are not new by any means. After fire was discovered, it made living indoors almost impossible until something was designed to alleviate the smoke and polluting elements of this life saving technology. Coal also proved to be dangerous in the same ways.
The larger problem that modern people have is what to do about this pollution in the workplace. People, in their homes, can make adjustments to control these contaminants by proper maintenance of central heating and air conditioning as well as the deployment of air purifiers. With the possible exception of governmental and health regulations dealing with air quality in the workplace, that environment is totally under the control of your employer.
The air pollution that is allowed in your workplace can impact the health, well-being and productivity of all who work there. It is not at all surprising that many employers, even without a governmental mandate, are noticing this. They have also been receiving lawsuits for quite some time because of the specific dangers this pollution presents to some employees and visitors.
Factors That Affect The Pollution Situation in Workplaces
The types of air pollution or other irritants you are likely to be exposed to in your place of work largely depend on the industry in which you are employed. If you spend your workday in a hospital or other care facility, a manufacturing plant, an auto repair facility or even a chemical processing plant, the EPA and/or OSHA has you covered with regulations about certain elements you should not be exposed to. In an average office environment, the air quality is largely unregulated, and the ameliorating efforts at purification are occasionally haphazard. This is largely due to the inability of facility managers to understand what is there and how it affects you.
The indoor air pollution is, of course, impacted by the outdoor quality of air and the presence of gaseous emissions from cars and trucks (carbon monoxides, sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides) as well as industrial pollution from smokestack industries in the area. They also include higher than normal ozone levels such as on hot days or extreme weather conditions.
Additional pollution sources are from an entire host of items. One of the most dangerous is cigarette smoke, which can contain as many as 4000 mostly carcinogenic contaminants. Another almost equally dangerous element is mold, especially in high moisture areas or water damaged construction elements that have not been dealt with appropriately.
Another source is radon gas, usually present in spaces that are located in basements or on lower levels. There are also airborne germs from sick people who still feel they need to come to work. The cleansers used to clean up your messes by the custodians may be an irritant to many people. Air fresheners, although they make the air smell better, usually simply cover that smell with another one and can impact many people. Pesticides, lead, asbestos dust, disinfectants and formaldehyde (from pressed wood furniture) can all pollute the air and can have an unhealthy effect on everyone.
Symptoms and Medical Diseases That May Occur
There are a number of symptoms of indoor air pollution that people will exhibit. A short list will include such things as:
* Trouble breathing
* Throat irritation
Medical conditions that can result are of several names:
* Allergic Rhinitis
* Legionnaire’s disease
* Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
* Heart disease
* Cancers of various types
* The Flu, andmany others
What We Can Do?
Here are several actions that can be suggested to your employer to reduce the air pollution and the associated problems, allergic reactions and worsening of medical conditions:
1. Increasing ventilation to remove and replace more contaminated air with fresh;
2. Isolating contaminating sources in a controlled way;
3. Dehumidification of moist air in a more aggressive manner;
4. The removal of more pollution sources, such as smoking and mold, wherever they occur.
After the initial work is accomplished, proper cleaning, the use of air purifiers and appropriate filter maintenance will help keep the spaces pollution free and cleaner, as well as safer, for all who enter.