Sick Building Syndrome is used to describe a situation in which people spending time in a building experience health related effects that seem to be related to the time spent in the building.
Back in the 1980’s, according to the World Health Organization, around 30 percent of new or remodelled office buildings suffered from this predicament. And even though the true reason for Sick Building Syndrome hasn’t been found yet, it is believed that air quality is a likely culprit.
The Importance Of Air Quality
The problem with air quality is that it is so easily affected by such common things as temperature, humidity and even man-made influences, like air conditioners, ventilation systems and heating.
With poor air, gases like carbon monoxide and radon, and microbial contaminants like mould and bacteria, as well as a host of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are free to do their worst, resulting in low levels of health amongst workers.
How To Improve Quality Of Air
The good news is that there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to vastly improve the quality of air – none of which are expensive or time consuming.
Here are just 5 of them.
Keep Fans Clean
- It’s only normal that some desk or standing fans will be on the go, especially in the summer months, but carefully maintaining them is important. Fans in the office can simply regurgitate dust and dirt, throwing them around the area.Also, condensation on blades is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. So, when the fan is turned on, the bacteria are thrown into the air and are then breathed in by staff.
Keep Vents Clear
- If you want to ventilate the space properly and remove all stale are from it, you need to make sure that vents are clear, ie. that no pieces of furniture or storage boxes are blocking the ventilation system. Occasional cleaning of ventilation channels is also a very good idea, since harmful bacteria can form there over time.
Dust the Office Regularly
- While completely eliminating dust from an office is practically impossible, many things can be done to significantly lower its amount in the environment. Dust can contain more than dirt and dead skin – it can also be full of harmful particles such as ammonium sulfate and this is why it is important to perform regular cleanings. Another surprising way of dealing with dust in the workplace is bringing plants. A research conducted by Washington State University showed that plants lower dust levels in a space by twenty percent.
Dispose of Rubbish Regularly
- Getting a bad smell from the kitchen bins is really just unpleasant. However, getting a whiff of decomposing food scraps, for example, can leave some people suffering from nausea and headaches.No definitive link has been formed between odour and health conditions, but ensuring that all bins in the office are emptied regularly is certainly a welcome development from everyone’s point of view.
Use Real Office Plants
- It has been mentioned before, but is always worth mentioning again. Bringing plants into the office can make a huge difference to the quality of the air being breathed. Research carried out in 2009 showed that VOCs were significantly reduced in enclosed spaces (in this case homes) where plants are present – concentration levels were 30 to 100 times greater when there were no plants. It seems the leaves of these plants absorb much of the ‘bad air’, releasing oxygen and freshening up what we breathe in.
Keep Office Fresh
After ventilating your space properly, it is always a good idea to keep office space fresh, particularly those areas which tend to lose freshness quickly, such as washrooms. Alsco’s Odour Control (Air Freshening & Odour Elimination Services) is designed to take care of this air control aspect for you. Fresh & Clean automatic wall mounted air fresheners are programmed to dispense a measured dose of fragrance at selected intervals. They are designed to last longer and reduce servicing time.
Contact Alsco to find out how you can obtain our products and support your company’s efforts to improve the working environment.
- ‘Sick Building Syndrome’, Wikipedia Page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_building_syndrome
- ‘An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality’, EPA, USA – http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/occupgd.html
- ‘Houseplants as AIr Fresheners’, spectroscopynow.com – http://www.spectroscopynow.com/view/index.html?chId=4&id=22493&type=Feature&page=1
- ‘Impact of Interior Plant on Relative Humidity and Dust’, VJ Lohr and CH Pearson-Mims, Washington State University, USA – http://public.wsu.edu/~lohr/hih/air/