Impact of Poor Air Quality
Did you know that more than 90% of office costs are from employee salaries? So, it’s really important not only for you to feel comfortable, but it’s in the best interest of your organization for your air quality to be good. There is really no good reason for anyone to feel uncomfortable at the office.
A study from the University of Denmark and published at NIH says, “It has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity in addition to causing visitors to express dissatisfaction. The size of the effect on most aspects of office work performance appears to be as high as 6-9%, the higher value being obtained in field validation studies.”
A study from the University California Berkeley showed “even small improvements in productivity may result in significant cost savings. Previous studies demonstrated that simulated work performance declines when sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms are present, and showed that simulated office work performance was negatively affected by an indoor pollution source.”
Common Air Quality Issues
There are several aspects to air quality that influence how well you focus and work.
- Temperature - Temperature is a big one. It’s amazing to see people wearing sweaters or warm jackets inside in the summer. It turns out that many office air conditioning systems are based on comfortable temperatures for men based on the 1960’s when men made up most of the office workforce. In general, men are not as cold temperature sensitive as women as so it’s not uncommon to see many more women bundling up inside. As you may know we sell our made in USA air purifiers in China to help with the air pollution. On a recent visit we met with executives at a large company. This was in December and surprisingly there was no heat in their offices. It must have been 45-50 degrees. While they saved money on heat it clearly made for a challenging meeting.
- Ventilation - Another complaint about office air is related to ventilation. It is either too stuffy, too drafty. Some issues are related to being too humid or too dry. There can also be unwanted odors.
- Mold & Odors - In environments where it is humid, mold can be a big problem. It can cause you to feel sick if not get sick. If left unresolved it can create significant productivity and not to mention health issues for you.
- Poor Air Circulation - The final source of indoor air quality issues are related to the installation of new furnishings, renovations, and poor air circulation. Carpeting and wood or faux wood are often treated with chemicals and this off-gassing is natural. The problem is that it is not healthy for you. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and an inability to focus. Couple these chemicals and gases with poor ventilation and you have a recipe for very poor air quality.
Solutions to Improve Indoor Air
- Remove The Source - One of the best solutions is to remove the problem at the source. For example, in the past it was not uncommon for people to smoke indoors. This created a huge indoor air quality problem and just stopping this has been very beneficial.
- Better HVAC - A bigger cost would be improving the HVAC system to provide proper ventilation and a sufficient mix of outdoor air. Depending upon the building this can be challenging and may require a significant cost. It requires a very well designed and maintained system.
- Commercial Air Purifiers - Air purification is also an important step in improving office air quality. It can be difficult to have proper air cleaning integrated in with the HVAC system and in that case a portable commercial air purifier is the best bet. This type of air purifier system can provide a higher flow that is needed in an office. It also provides a much higher level of filtration than the HVAC system. A commercial air cleaner will provide great relief from allergens, dust, mold and other particulates. A system with a bed of activated carbon or similar media can also solve issues related to chemical off-gassing. This is generally related to fumes from the carpeting, desks and office cleaning supplies. While there is cost involved, studies show the benefits from better air can pay for itself in 2 years.