In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of indoor air quality in modern offices. Studies have found that in North America and Europe, we spend 90% of our time indoors. With many people spending a significant portion of their day indoors, the quality of the air we breathe can have a vital impact on our health and well-being. Unfortunately, poor air quality in the workplace is a common problem.
In this article, we explore the reasons to measure air quality for the well-being of employees and the office environment in detail.
With the rise of people returning to workplaces in large numbers, the need for proper Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has never been more important. If you ask, what are the two main sources of indoor air pollution?
They are as follows:
1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
One of the major contributors to poor quality air in modern offices is Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a group of chemicals that are commonly found in a wide range of products, including cleaning supplies, paints, and furniture. When these chemicals are released into the air, they can cause a range of health problems, including headaches, dizziness, and respiratory issues. Additionally, VOCs have been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer and neurological damage.
2. Particulate Matter (PM)
Another major contributor to poor quality air in workplaces is Particulate Matter (PM). PM is a term used to describe tiny particles that are suspended in the air, including dust, dirt, and other pollutants. These particles can cause a wide range of health problems, including respiratory issues and heart disease. Additionally, PM has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer and neurological damage.
But on a wider scale, there are various other sources too. Such as:
The humidity level in an office also plays a role. If the humidity level is too low, it can cause dry skin, sore throats, and increased susceptibility to colds and flu. On the other hand, if the humidity level is too high, it can create an ideal environment for the growth of mold and other harmful microorganisms.
4. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is also contributing to inefficient working environment. It is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas that people and pets produce. Indoor activities like cooking are also a contributor as CO2 is a by-product of combustion. High levels of CO2 can be an indicator of poor ventilation and can also cause headaches and drowsiness leading to disrupted attention to work.
Temperature also plays a critical role in indoor air quality, especially in air-conditioned buildings. Uncontrolled temperatures can lead to poor comfort, increased energy costs, health issues, and overall reduced air quality. Additionally, the temperature of the air in an office can affect productivity; an engineering recommendation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on air treatment (section III, chapter 2, subsection V of the technical manual) is within the range of 68-76°F, approximately 25° Celsius.
So, how do we improve the air in the modern office? One solution is to invest in high-quality air quality sensors, such as the Freespace PAM sensor. This sensor measures VOCs, PM2.5, CO2, humidity, noise, light, Formaldehyde, and temperature.
Sensing Air Quality
Basic air quality sensors typically measure a limited number of pollutants and may not provide real-time data or continuous monitoring. They may also have a lower level of accuracy and may not provide detailed information about the pollutants present in the air. In contrast, PAM (Pure Air Module) is a more intelligent system that uses real-time, accurate, continuous, detailed, and visible indicators of indoor air quality.
PAM measures a wide range of pollutants and use predictive models to forecast air conditions, providing early warning of potential problems. This allows individuals and organizations to take proactive measures to improve the quality of air and protect human health.
Another unique aspect of the Freespace PAM+ Sensor is that it helps the certification process, by providing this data and the ability to export air quality data logs at any given time.
PAM+ offers further measurements such as:
- Small and discreet sensor used for a wider space
- Easy to measure VOC, CO2, temperature, and humidity
- Real-time reporting for air quality
- Visible feedback in the form of LED
- Analysis of historic air quality monitoring
- Understand and evaluate air quality on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis
Recognizing Clean Air in the Workplace
WELL Certification is a globally recognized standard for buildings, interiors, and communities that aims to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. The certification is awarded by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and is based on a performance-based system that assesses features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, such as the quality of air and water, light, and thermal comfort.
To achieve WELL Certification, a building or space must meet certain requirements outlined in the WELL Building Standard, which is a rating system that consists of seven categories:
The certification is awarded at different levels, depending on the number of features that are implemented, and the level of performance achieved. The levels include Gold, Silver, and Platinum.
Hence, WELL certification is important because it provides a framework for designing and operating buildings that promote human health and well-being, and it helps to create a healthier and more productive environment for building occupants.
A number of research studies have shown that investing in air quality monitoring and control technology can significantly improve indoor air quality, especially when leveraging off to sensor data to allow the BMS to make calculated adjustments to ensure all set thresholds are met. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that using air-cleaning technologies can significantly reduce the levels of PM and VOCs in the air, which can lead to significant health benefits for employees.
If you’re looking to improve employee productivity, satisfaction and overall well-being, it’s time to consider ways to monitor the quality of the air your workforce breathes.