3 truths every business owner needs to know about indoor air quality (IAQ)
Indoor air quality (IAQ) not only affects employee health, but also productivity. This, in turn, can affect the success of your business! Here’s all you need to know about the impact of indoor air quality on your employees and how to manage it.
1. Poor indoor air quality affects employee health and productivity
It is well-known that air pollution is responsible for various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, respiratory infections, and cancer—in fact, 800,000 people die from poor workplace air quality every year.
There’s also a specific illness linked to poor indoor air quality called “sick building syndrome”. It is characterized by flu-like symptoms including headaches, dry cough, fever, chills, chest tightness, increased asthma attacks, allergies, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, sensitivity to odours, and eyes, nose, and throat irritation, which abate once the individual leaves the building.
A specific study conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Centre for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University found that individuals who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of air pollutants perform cognitively better than those who work in environments with average levels of indoor air pollution. This held true across all of the nine cognitive domains tested, which were:
- Basic Activity Level: the impact air quality has on one’s ability to make decisions at all times
- Applied Activity Level: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to make decisions to achieve overall goals
- Focused Activity Level: the impact air quality has on one’s the capacity to pay attention to current situations
- Task Orientation: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to make decisions to complete immediate tasks
- Crisis Response: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to plan and strategize under emergency situations
- Information Seeking: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to acquire information required from different sources
- Information Usage: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to use provided and gathered information to attain goals
- Breadth of Approach: the impact air quality has on one’s capacity to make decisions through a variety of options and opportunities
- Strategy: the impact air quality has on one’s ability to use solutions through information and planning
2. There is a difference between indoor air quality and outdoor air quality
Studies have found air pollution concentrations to be 2 to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. Naturally, outdoor chemical contaminants consisting of the common major air pollutants can enter the building through open doors and windows, plumbing vents and exhausts, and cracks in structures and foundations. The negative effects of poor air quality are compounded by inadequate ventilation for the occupants. Alongside these, direct sources of indoor air pollution include:
- Biological contaminants such as bacteria, moulds, pollen, pet dander, radon, fungi, and viruses that have accumulated in ducts, drain pipes, humidifiers, ceiling tiles, insulation, upholstery, and carpentry
- Combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) from tobacco smoke, wood and coal heating, cooking appliances, and fireplaces
- Lead and asbestos from building materials
- Ozone (O3), which is produced from certain air cleaners that use ionization technology
- Indoor chemical contaminants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that stem from interior products and building materials such as furniture, wallpapers, cleaning materials, copy machines, lacquers, synthetic fragrances, insecticides and thirdhand tobacco smoke, which have mutagenic, carcinogenic, and toxic effects on humans
3. Indoor air quality can be monitored, managed, and optimized
At Breeze Technologies, we have a 3-step method for handling indoor air quality:
- Monitor: Our approach for measuring indoor air pollution is different from others on the market. We focus not only indoors, but also outdoors, because pollutants are capable of travelling through both areas. As outdoor air quality has a measurable influence on indoor air quality, we use sensors both in- and outside of our customers’ buildings. Boasting a small form factor, these high-end, lower-cost sensors measure for all major pollutants.
- Manage: Our Breeze Environmental Intelligence Cloud analyzes and presents real-time quality data through dashboards, visualizations, and threshold analyses. This ultimately allows for accurate situational awareness of your workplace by identifying problems, trends, and short-term and long-term events for which to base clean air actions on.
- Optimize: Every workspace is different. Every air quality challenge is different. All environmental factors and parameters must be taken into account. Can windows be opened? What ventilation system is being used? How high are the ceilings? How is the space in your building being used? Based on this information, we develop individual strategies to create the most optimal environmental conditions for your business to thrive.
Contact us to take control of the success of your business today!