What Poor Office Air Quality Causes

Published: 16th April 2010
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Many health problems can occur as the result of poor air quality, ranging in severity from mild headaches to severe allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. Preventive maintenance and regular replacement of air filters is necessary to keep your office’s indoor air safe for every employee. As an HVAC service expert of Virginia’s AbleAir-1, Inc., Aris Parviz knows a thing or two about indoor air quality. Here, he talks about the impacts of poor office air quality on your employees and your bottom line.

Keeping employees healthy and happy involves more than just keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter. Several other factors must also be taken into account. And not just in relation to your employees’ comfort, your office equipment also needs “healthy” air in order to function properly.

Mold and Mildew: In damp climates, mold and mildew are among the most common culprits. Because office buildings are often tightly sealed, which means that outdoor air is kept out and indoor air re-circulated, mold and mildew can accumulate inside. Mold is known to contribute to a number of health problems including headaches, fatigue, inability to concentrate and respiratory problems. Therefore, one of the most dramatic effects of poor indoor air quality on your business is lost productivity.

Dust: Causing some of the same health effects as mold and mildew, dust can also trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Dust buildup can contribute to equipment failures as well. Fans designed to cool a computer can pull in tiny dust particles, creating a blanket on the processor and causing it to overheat. Dust in copiers and printers can cause paper jams, contribute to excess wear and tear, and lead to costly repairs.

Allergens: Other allergens are also of concern. Pollen and pet dander, which can enter the workplace on employees’ shoes and clothing, are among the most problematic factors. They can cause respiratory symptoms and skin irritation in allergic individuals.

Chemical Irritants: Additionally, chemical irritants are present in any office whether from carpets, office equipment or new office furniture. Like mold, dust and allergens, chemical irritants can impact your employees’ productivity by causing discomfort and affecting concentration.

Airborne Viruses and Bacteria: Because fresh air is limited and indoor air is re-circulated within your office, airborne illnesses are more likely to be transferred from person to person, which means more people will likely be affected. Furthermore, employees with underlying respiratory conditions like asthma or allergies may experience even more severe reactions to indoor irritants and allergens. These serious health effects can lead to missed work and doctor visits, which could ultimately cut into your bottom line. Air filtration systems can be helpful in reducing airborne viruses and bacteria as well as the allergens and irritants mentioned above.

Static: Static electricity does more than just causing uncomfortable shocks. It can also threaten sensitive computer equipment. When indoor air is too dry, static can cause equipment failures and unreliability. In such cases, a humidifier can add just enough moisture into the air to eliminate the problems.

Moisture Level: The amount of moisture in the air plays a big role in your employees’ health as well. Excessively dry air can cause coughing, dry skin, dry lips and other discomforts. Overly moist air contributes to mold buildup, and can cause your employees to feel uncomfortably warm, especially in summer. Poor air quality can also negatively affect your office equipment and supplies. When indoor humidity is too high, paperwork may actually stick together, creating problems for copy machines and printers, and frustration for your employees. Wasted paper means wasted money, which most business owners want to avoid at all costs. A dehumidifier can be used to regulate indoor moisture levels and prevent such problems.

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

Aris Parviz is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find an HVAC contractor or more HVAC contractor articles at Yodle Consumer Guide.

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