By Grainger Editorial Staff 7/1/19
Ah... achoo ! That's the sound of thousands of Americans battling the effects of less than stellar air quality in the workplace each day. In fact, according to the EPA, we spend about 90% of our time indoors, with roughly half of that time in the workplace. Poor indoor air quality isn't just something to sneeze at either: the EPA lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country.
Poor indoor air quality can also lead to physical symptoms that may reduce worker productivity. The United States Department of Labor states that ” poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.” Although there are other factors that can contribute to these symptoms including temperature, lighting and individual health, poor indoor air quality is still one of the leading causes of loss of productivity in the workplace.
OSHA describes indoor air quality as the way “inside air can affect a person's health, comfort, and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, lack of outside air (poor ventilation), mold from water damage, or exposure to other chemicals.” There are 9 sources of indoor air pollutants that you should be aware of:
Although completely eliminating many of these contaminants may not be possible, they can be minimized. Making sure that your building’s HVAC unit is working properly and outfitting it regularly with the right air filter is a good start.
One solution to improving IAQ and worker productivity is to increase the amount of outdoor air being pumped into the building, but even outdoor air can introduce pollutants such as mold, pollen or exhaust fumes into the environment. However, as an employer or building owner, there is something else you can do: install high quality HEPA air filters.
According to an article entitled: “National Benefit of Improved Particle Filtration,” compiled by the EPA from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, particle filtration in buildings can substantially reduce people's exposures to particles from both outdoor air and indoor sources.”
How much so? Here are few facts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory website:
These statistics suggest that developing and implementing an indoor air quality management plan can help you improve productivity, health and the general well being of a building’s occupants. Having the right ventilation system in place is the first step to fixing poor indoor air quality, but using the right HEPA air filters and replacing them often is the key to maintaining a healthy indoor air environment.
Most people associate HEPA filters with residential applications, but they are also used in industries such as healthcare, nuclear power, technology and more. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine “A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter can remove the majority of harmful particles, including mold spores, dust, dust mites, pet dander and other irritating allergens from the air.”
HEPA filters are designed to remove 99.7% of particles that have a size of 0.3 µm or larger from air that passes through the filter. They utilize a unique construction that actually causes the particles passing through to stick to the fibers in the filter, which is why it is also important to change your filter at the recommended times for your application.
The benefits are clear: HEPA air filters can help improve indoor air quality, increasing worker productivity and cutting down on sick days due to the effects of pollutants and particulates. An increasing number of employers and building owners are cashing in on this increase in worker productivity and the cost savings that HEPA air filters can provide. Are you one of them?
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality FAQs
Benefits of Improving Indoor Environmental Quality
Impacts of Indoor Environments on Human Performance and Productivity
A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers
HEPA air filter
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.