Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace

The quality of the air inside of offices, retail stores, restaurants and other types of workplaces can have an impact on the health and comfort of the workers. Poor comfort may affect workplace productivity, attentiveness, and absenteeism. This can lead to decreased productivity and employee satisfaction issues.  Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to improve indoor air quality in workplaces.

What Factors Affect IAQ?

Some deficiencies in air quality are easily identified by workers.   Offices with problematic temperature or humidity levels will be noticed and affect employees immediately. Other less obvious issues such as elevated carbon dioxide levels or allergens, while harder to notice, will also affect employees.  Carbon dioxide levels tend to increase during the second half of a business day due to the employee breathing. Allergens and pet dander and other irritants also increase as the workday progresses.

Poor IAQ can cause health issues for workers if not addressed. Workers may suffer from allergy symptoms as a result of increased mold and dust mite concentrations. Workers may also suffer from headaches and fatigue as a result of poor air quality. The conditions are similar to what is known as tight building syndrome.  These factors all affect an employee’s ability to work effectively and the bottom line of the company.

There are a few things that can be done to improve indoor air quality.  A regular cleaning regiment should be established to help keep the workplace free of contaminants.  Air flow from the heating and cooling system should be consistent.  Lastly, and perhaps the most important, improvements in ventilation should be added.  A recommended air exchange rate as determined by the ASHRAE standards during working hours will help flush out the carbon dioxide levels and other containment and replace them with fresh filtered air from the outside.  Balanced HRV and ERV systems such as those produced by Zehnder America are designed for this purpose. The systems run 24/7 and can increase ventilation rates as dictated by the demands of the workday in an energy efficient manner.  Installing a high-quality ventilation system can greatly improve the air quality in the workplace creating a safer and more productive workplace.