With offices and places of work beginning to reopen, many businesses are beginning to adapt to the “new normal” with a focus on hygiene, many have identified air quality as a key component of this.
We look at some of the reasons why air quality will be even more important in the workplace in our “new normal” as well as practical steps to improve air quality in your workplace.
If a room has humidity levels of between 35 and 50% there is increased risk of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) off-gassing. These types of compounds can be damaging to human health and respiratory systems, even in small quantities. Examples of these VOCs include formaldehyde which evaporates from many kinds of paint and is a known carcinogen. It is therefore important to ensure that a room is not too humid so you can minimise the risk to workers who may be exposed to this for long periods of time. In addition, a humid environment often allows viruses and bacteria to spread further while inside so having a less humid indoor environment will reduce this risk.
- Microbe and Mould Control:
Fungal spores, viruses, and bacteria are often spread through ventilation and air conditioning equipment. Ensuring that this equipment is regularly checked and cleaned reduces the risk of this happening. When cleaning particular attention should be paid to higher risk areas such as air vents, grills, heating and cooling coils, and drain pans.
- Air Filtration:
Most air conditioning filters are often designed to deal with larger particles such as dust and are not designed to deal with microscopic pollutants such as fuel emissions, bacteria, and viruses. This issue is especially important in more built up areas which are at higher risk of these kinds of particles as well as viral spread. Selecting the correct air filtration equipment is very important in these cases with the use of High Efficiency Particulate Airbags which capture many of the smallest forms of airborne particulate matter. In addition, replacing air handling unit filters with broad spectrum carbon activated filters can also help with this.
Keeping all air fresh and reducing mechanical air recirculation such as fans or air conditioning can reduce the risks of viral infection. In many smaller spaces without easy access to windows or fresh air which provides natural ventilation, air purifiers should be considered. Opening windows should also be judged against the risk of bringing in allergens such as pollen during hayfever season and the cold during the autumn and winter months.