Poor indoor air quality can affect people young and old – and it is one of the top 5 risks to public health, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Health authorities and regulators in all parts of the world are echoing this sentiment and warn of the short-term and long-term health effects of indoor air pollutants. In many industry segments, poor indoor air quality can also become a major health and safety issue.*
For example, large office buildings often suffer from poor indoor air quality because the existing heating and ventilation systems are unable to provide enough fresh air exchanges for all the people working on the floor.
Indoor air pollutants can include chemicals and volatile organic compounds, mold, tobacco smoke, dust, bacteria, viruses and more. While not everyone will react to these pollutants, poor air quality can affect the health and well-being of certain workers. Some experts call IAQ-related health effects Sick Building Syndrome.
Poor indoor air quality affects the comfort and well-being of all involved and may reduce concentration, attendance, productivity and performance. Health effects are often dependent on a person's immune system and the level of exposure.
In failing to maintain a clean indoor environment or to respond promptly to poor indoor air quality, there is an increased risk of general as well as long-term health problems.
Many volatile organic compounds that are commonly found in buildings (such as formaldehyde from carpet adhesives or ozone and other chemicals from laser printer ink) have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and respiratory diseases.
That is why national agencies such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S.) recommend a proactive approach to address IAQ concerns and to implement a comprehensive IAQ management system at the workplace.
There are simple and easy steps each person, worker and employer can undertake in order to improve the indoor air quality.
It starts with information about common indoor air pollutants, possible health effects of poor indoor air quality, proven and safe solutions and a commitment to keep the air clean. Better IAQ does not necessarily mean a costly renovation or improvements; it can start with daily, individual actions that together make a big difference in the indoor air quality.
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