With the average Brit spending approximately 90% of their day indoors, it’s imperative that workplaces take the time to consider their indoor air quality, and the pollutants that may be having an unsuspected impact on employee health, which can impact staff productivity and wellbeing. We have put together a comprehensive guide to indoor air quality, to help you, as a facility manager, improve your establishment.
Table of Contents
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Before diving into the ins and outs of air quality, it’s important to understand what it is.
Put simply, indoor air quality is defined as the air quality within and around buildings, relating to the health and comfort of building occupants.
The Importance of Maintaining Air Quality
So, why is maintaining your indoor air quality so important?
The first, and possibly the most vital reason for improving your workplace air quality, is health. Some health effects can show up shortly after a single exposure to a pollutant, such as hay fever and allergens, which are typically short-term and treatable. However, in extreme circumstances where there has been repeated exposure, poor indoor air quality has been linked to sick building syndrome, a condition in which a person will develop symptoms of illness or become infected with chronic disease from the building in which they work or reside. Symptoms can range from headaches and rashes to nausea and fatigue, and in extreme cases could lead to prolonged sick leave and ongoing health problems.
Another reason you should look to improve indoor air quality, is productivity and performance. A recent study conducted in offices and schools, showed that comfortable room temperatures, increased ventilation, and the reduction of indoor pollution sources increased the productivity of the participants by 5-10%. As such, encouraging clean, fresh air within your workplace is likely to stimulate employees and students, and help them to feel more alert and focused – having a positive effect on business performance.
Common Pollutants That Affect Air Quality
There are several air pollutants that contribute to poor air quality in businesses. These include and are not limited to:
First and secondhand tobacco smoke is a leading cause of poor indoor air quality, with experts claiming that cigarette smoke contains over 4000 different compounds. A significant number of these are toxic and can damage our cells and respiratory system.
2. Mould and Mildew
Mould and mildew typically build up in damp areas and washrooms are often the most likely place in business premises. Improving your indoor environment can prevent the development of mould and stop the spores spreading through the air.
3. Floods and Water Damage
Floods and water damage pose a threat to employees, particularly for people with lung disease. Standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and when they become airborne and are inhaled, they can put people at more of a risk of lung disease, even when the flooding is from a clean source of water. This is particularly prevalent in workplace washrooms where water is consistently present.
4. Aerosol Products
Research has found that aerosol products used in the home and in the workplace emit more volatile organic compound air pollution than all the vehicles in the UK. Common aerosol products found in the aerosol include air fresheners, deodorant, and paint sprays. If aerosol usage continues to rise, air pollution from VOCs could increase to 2.2 million tonnes each year by 2050. Exposure to VOCs can lead to numerous health issues including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea and long-term damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Other pollutants include dust, asbestos, carpets, and radon.
Symptoms of Indoor Air Pollutants
Recognising the causes of indoor air pollution can be a challenge, but there are a few simple steps you can take to identify what may be contributing to your poor indoor air quality. Here are the questions you should be asking if you believe indoor air pollution may be a problem:
• Can you see or smell mould or mildew?
• Is anyone smoking, vaping or using e-cigarettes indoors?
• Are there any leaks? Particularly focusing on washrooms and kitchens.
• Have you recently installed new furniture or painted?
• Is there adequate ventilation and outdoor air flow?
Considering these questions should help you to know if your air is contaminated and whether changes need to be put in place.
The Benefits of Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
We’ve established that poor indoor air quality can have harmful effects on your employee’s health, but what are the other benefits of providing good air quality in the workplace?
1. Reduce Staff Turnover & Sick Days
Recruitment and training costs can quickly add up, so in today’s climate, retaining your staff members is more important than ever. Employees who are satisfied with their working conditions are less likely to quit their jobs. This leads to lower employee turnover rates and money saved on talent acquisition.
2. Improve Customer Satisfaction
Clients and customers are at the heart of any business and is what ultimately drives business growth. Therefore, ensuring your customers have a good experience is vital to success.
3. Eliminate Odours
A cooler indoor environment makes it hard for mould to bloom and for germs to develop. Improving your indoor air quality will help to minimise these odours by preventing pollutants from entering the space. After all, research shows that humans have a 65% chance of remembering smells correctly after one year, showing the lasting power that smell has.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
Now that you know how to recognise signs of poor air quality, it’s time to implement changes that will have an impact, particularly in commercial washrooms where such issues are particularly prevalent.
Air purification systems do more than just neutralising malodours, with different types of system offering a host of varying benefits to your business. For instance, Citron Hygiene’s BioZone Commercial Air Purifier is designed to give customers and colleagues peace of mind that the air they’re breathing is safe and hygienic. Working 24/7 to target bacteria, viruses, mould, odours and other impurities in the air and on surfaces, this transformative solution is ideal for heavy traffic areas, reaching spaces that no other cleaning technology can. Learn more about the BioZone.
Alternatively, the CitronClear Odour Neutraliser is on hand to tackle those pesky odours, all whilst using advanced technologies and ultraviolet light to reduce the polluting organic matters in the air. Low noise, a compact unit and an energy saving motor, the CitronClear is the ideal air purification systems for a variety of working environments. Discover CitronClear.
Air Fresheners to Manage Odours
If you’re looking to improve the smell of your establishment, whilst improving your air quality, the EcoAire system is ideal for commercial washrooms, targeting malodours at the source and leaving a fresh clean scent. Meanwhile, our CitronScent Large Area Fragrance Unit has been designed with larger spaces in mind, available in a variety of fragrances to create a unique environment that encourages customers to stay.
At Citron Hygiene, we are taking steps to reduce our environmental impact, by supplying air care products that don’t use aerosols, and instead, distributing scent through natural airflow with no propellants or VOCs. Learn more about changes you can make to your washroom to help the environment.
Improve the Quality of Air in Your Washrooms
It’s evident that clean air does wonders for your business, whilst looking after your employee’s health and wellbeing. Now’s the time to improve the quality of air in your workplace washrooms. Get in touch today and talk to our experts about our range of commercial air care solutions.