How to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Work

Published on: August 12, 2013

Many people spend the vast majority of their time at work. If most of your waking hours are spent in the office, it’s important to make sure that this space is as conducive to your health and well-being as possible. Your position in the company will determine how much power you have to make major changes in the office environment. However, you can make your work space more comfortable even if you have nothing more to work with than your cubicle.

Indicators of Poor Air Quality

Certain signs can point toward poor air quality in the workplace and indicate a need for change. If you’re proposing changes to upper management within the company, it’s helpful to cite some of the signs of poor air quality as a means of supporting your argument for improvement measures. Poor air quality can affect the health of employees in many ways. If you notice these symptoms, it’s time to investigate how to improve indoor air quality at work. Some symptoms associated with poor air quality include:

  • Dry and irritated nose, throat, and eyes
  • Dry skin or a rash
  • Frequent headaches
  • Chronic feelings of fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing or problems with respiratory conditions like asthma
  • Sinus congestion
  • Nausea
  • Frequent sneezing and coughing
  • Problems with allergies

Indoor Air Contaminants

There are many different contaminants that can affect office air quality. The nature of your work will determine which pollutants are of the greatest concern. If you work in or near a factory setting, you may have construction dust or chemical pollutants to deal with. A traditional office setting can expose you to a number of indoor air pollutants ranging from formaldehyde used in wallpaper or pressed wood furniture to chemicals used by the office cleaning crew. Dust is a concern in almost any setting.

If your office building has suffered from water damage or is exposed to high humidity, mold and mildew could take hold in the environment as well. The first step to eliminating these air pollutants is identifying the source and taking care of the underlying problem. If you’re wondering how to improve indoor air quality at work, cleaning up the space and removing these types of contaminants is a good place to start. It’s important to take note of any signs of mold or mildew. If mold growth is spotted, the entire area must be inspected to determine how deep the problem goes.

Improving the Air Quality

If you look into how to improve indoor air quality at work, you’ll find that there are many things you can do. Changing the layout of the office is a good place to start. Make sure that furniture, cubicle walls, and decorative items are arranged in a manner that’s conducive to airflow. A couch placed in front of an air vent can make the whole room stuffy and uncomfortable. Make space around the air vents and use strategically placed fans to keep air circulating and prevent stagnation.

A good air filter will ensure that the circulating air is as clean as possible. A HEPA filter is the most efficient choice for removing airborne contaminants. If you’re not using a HEPA filter, check the MERV rating of the filter you are using. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is. Consider upgrading to a filter with a higher rating.

If you don’t have control over how the building is managed as a whole, you can take small steps in your own office or cubicle space to improve the air quality around you. A personal HEPA filter will remove pollutants from the air in your direct vicinity.

Some sources recommend indoor plants to filter toxins from the air. Though the evidence supporting this method of reducing air pollution is inconclusive, indoor plants have much to recommend them. Plants increase humidity and oxygen in the space around them, making the area more comfortable. The presence of lush green plants in an otherwise drab work space is also a good mood-lifter.

Don’t neglect the importance of air quality in the office. If you’re suffering from symptoms of poor air quality, take steps to improve the situation or appeal to management staff who can. Once you understand how to improve indoor air quality at work, you can see that even small steps will make a big difference.

For more information on improving indoor air quality at work or in your home, contact us at AirConditioningSouthEast.com. We work with more than 200 dealers throughout the Southeastern United States for your air conditioning and HVAC needs.