Have you noticed a lot of your workers getting sick or reporting symptoms of respiratory illness lately? Recent research by the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory has shown that our air pollution problem is unacceptable in every area of the capital, based on high levels of PM 2.5 exposure.
But it’s not just the outdoor air that can put people at risk; most of us spend 90% of our time indoors, and indoor air quality can be 2-5 times worse. Here are some ways you can start checking and ensuring better indoor air for your employees.
Better air filters and ventilation
London health and safety regulations mandate that workplace owners should ensure each individual has a fresh air supply rate of 8 litres per second. Even without getting into precise measurements, it’s evident that you can’t achieve this objective without good airflow.
Effective mechanical ventilation will circulate the air at your workplace, bringing fresh air inside while pushing out the lower quality indoor air. If outdoor air conditions are poor, the role of your air filter is crucial. High-quality filters are more effective at screening out fine particles that can cause many respiratory ailments. Upgrade your air filters and perform any necessary maintenance on your ventilation system; you’ll be rewarded with healthier workers and fewer sick days.
Monitor air quality
You can’t be objective in your assessment of indoor air quality at your workplace without an instrument of measurement. Several indoor air quality monitoring systems are available for you to install and keep track of the levels of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and other vital indicators.
With the rise of smart devices and the Internet of Things, you can go a step further and show your commitment to a healthy workplace by connecting your indoor air monitor to mobile apps and fitness trackers, for instance. This can alert you to potential health issues and anticipate productivity disruptions at the individual level.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are found in many common substances used around the workplace. Paint, varnish, wax, and adhesives used in buildings and furniture can emit VOCs over time. Common cleaning and disinfecting products also contain high levels of VOCs. Studies have shown that indoor concentrations of VOCs may be up to 10 times higher compared to outdoor air.
To limit exposure, use low pollutant alternatives whenever possible – for instance when buying new furniture for the office. Outsourcing activities can also help; send your office rugs to carpet cleaners in London instead of dispensing the cleaning agents within your workplace.
Research by NASA, among others, has identified specific indoor plants which actively clean the air. Species such as household corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, golden cane palm, the rubber plant, Boston fern, spider plant, and Mauna Loa peace lily have all been proven to improve indoor air quality.
Indoor plants are low-maintenance and have the side benefit of making the indoor environment more attractive. By introducing these hardy plants to your workplace, you’ll help your employees breathe easier, while also boosting their overall well-being and productivity.
We all spend a lot of time indoors, but not as much attention goes to the quality of the air we breathe once inside. Take the necessary steps to help maintain clean indoor air at your workplace, and see the improvements in the health and productivity of your workers.