Office ventilation article and permission to publish here provided by Claire Glassman.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most business organizations have made the issue of indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority to minimize the spread of the deadly virus.
The global health crisis has shed light on the fact that indoor air quality and proper ventilation are paramount in maintaining good health and productivity for any building’s occupants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor ventilation traps and concentrates indoor air pollutants, leading to immediate and long-term health challenges for building occupants ranging from mild allergies to life-threatening respiratory illnesses.
The issue of inadequate ventilation has become so severe that the National Institute of Health (NIH) terms the range of symptoms linked with poor indoor air quality as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
To minimize cases of SBS and increase the daily operations in your office, you need to ensure that your building is well ventilated. Reputable air conditioning companies such as Kaiser Air Conditioning can help you install proper heating and air conditioning for your building.
Just keep in mind that if your office relies on air conditioning, it’s recommended to keep the windows open to ensure fresh circulation of air or use a ventilation system to introduce fresh air into the room.
Understanding Sick Building Syndrome
SBS refers to a group of symptoms associated with building occupants who experience acute health and comfort issues due to the time spent in a given building. SBS is generally associated with poor ventilation and indoor air quality. An individual with Sick Building Syndrome experiences health issues and discomfort while in the affected building and feels better while away. To avoid SBS, it’s important to ensure there’s enough fresh air circulation in the office environment.
The issue of indoor air pollution can’t be overstated. Read along to learn how poor ventilation affects the health of the building’s occupants, hence impacting daily operations.
1. Airborne Illnesses Spread Faster In A Poorly-Ventilated Building
COVID-19 is just the latest challenge in a long line of events that emphasize the need for better ventilation. Implementing measures to improve office ventilation ensures indoor space’s safety and prevents various types of airborne illnesses. Most viruses that cause airborne diseases spread faster in poorly ventilated buildings since they can concentrate more easily.
Compared to a poorly ventilated building, viral particles can’t concentrate easily in a well-ventilated room where there’s adequate circulation of air that disperses the airborne pathogens.
When building occupants inhale concentrated viral air, they’re most likely to get sick, leading to low productivity. To increase your organization’s productivity, you need to ensure that your building is adequately ventilated to minimize the chances of transmitting airborne viruses such as COVID-19.
You can also reduce the risk of airborne illnesses by ensuring that windows in your workplace are always open to allow fresh air in the room. Besides, improving the central air filtration systems and using fans to increase airflow in and out of the building.
2. Contaminants Accumulate Quickly In Enclosed Spaces
Indoor contaminants such as dust and pet dander accumulate easily on upholstery and carpets, especially in a room with insufficient airflow. Building occupants also bring in other outdoor pollutants such as dirt and pollen. All these particles end up on the carpets and other surfaces.
Carpets are the leading filter of any building since they accumulate the most dirt and debris. Without regular cleaning, the carpeting in your office can’t filter these pollutants effectively.
When indoor contaminants such as paints, cleaning supplies, perfumes, and insecticides combine with outdoor pollutants, they can trigger asthma, allergies, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath, and other respiratory symptoms.
These symptoms can cause building occupants to feel weak and affect their ability to perform their responsibilities. Thus, ensure that your building is well-ventilated to remove irritants and introduce fresh air suitable for optimum productivity.
3. Too High Or Too Low Humidity Levels Increases Risks Of Illness
The humidity levels of a building depend on its ventilation. Dry air can cause discomforts such as itchy eyes, dry skin, sinus irritation, and sore throat. Some viruses thrive in dry air, which makes it easier for people to transmit illnesses to each other. On the other hand, too much humidity makes it easier for mold and bacteria to thrive. This can cause severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks on the building’s occupants.
Poor ventilation may cause buildings to either have too high or too low humidity levels. For instance, an enclosed restroom without an effective exhaust fan is more likely to have high humidity levels that encourage mold and bacterial growth. Maintaining humidity levels between 30% and 50% is advisable to maintain comfort and good health. Look for ventilation systems that will help you maintain these levels throughout the building to promote air circulation.
4. Odors Linger In Poorly Ventilated Rooms
Odors are another issue in poorly ventilated spaces. Without adequate airflow, odors can take quite a while to dissipate. Ironically, when odors arise, most people reach out for air fresheners to mask the offensive smells. However, instead of solving the problem, these fresheners introduce more irritants into the air that can make building occupants ill.
Bad smells usually indicate potential health problems. So, instead of using air fresheners, a better solution to foul odors is to ensure proper ventilation. You might also want to address the source of the odor with safe and friendly cleaning methods.
5. High Temperatures Are Common In Poorly Ventilated Spaces
Spaces with poor ventilation are more likely to experience extreme temperatures. High temperatures can lead to fatigue, distraction, and discomfort, which interfere with the workers’ productivity. To avoid extreme temperatures in your space, ensure that it’s well ventilated or use air conditioners to control the heat. You can also minimize the number of occupants in a given space to ensure free circulation of air.
Proper office ventilation involves having fresh outdoor air entering the workspace. This helps dilute airborne microorganisms that may lead to illnesses that negatively impact your organization’s productivity.
Understanding how poor ventilation affects your productivity ensures that you prioritize ventilation needs in your space to increase the aid in the performance of your workers. If you aren’t sure how to ventilate your space adequately, ask for help from a reputable air conditioning company.
And also consider the engineering of the acoustics in your workplace environment to further improve your employee’s work experience.