In the 21st century, air pollution is at an all-time high. In a world where over 90% of the population lives in areas with low air quality (according to the World Health Organization), it is imperative for businesses to take action in offering a safe work environment for their staff. You may believe that the majority of air pollution is outdoors, caused by car exhaust and factory fumes. However, some of the most dangerous air pollutions is found inside offices and buildings.
The Environmental Protection Agency has listed indoor air pollution as one of the top environmental health risks to Americans. In fact, the EPA believes that indoor air can be up to 100 times more dangerous than outdoor air. Indoor air pollution comes with a long list of health risks including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lung disease
- Kidney damage
- Birth defects and lower birth weight
Decreased life expectancy
Indoor air pollution is a serious problem that could affect you and your staff. However, there are several steps you can take to prevent air pollution from invading your facility. Here are the top indoor air pollutants in commercial buildings, and what you can do to keep them away:
Benzene is a known carcinogen and air pollutant found in gasoline, plastics, synthetic fibers, car exhaust, paint, glue, and even some pesticides. While it is not particularly common, it can pose some serious health risks. Avoid products that contain benzene, and if your facility is close to a gas station, have employees limit exposure to the fumes.
Radon is a natural gas that rises from the earth. Natural doesn’t mean safe though; it is a very dangerous air pollutant and the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Some areas of the country are more prone to radon exposure than others, but all facilities should take steps to prevent staff exposure. Radon can pollute indoor air through lack of ventilation, cracks in walls and flooring, openings in piping, and joints in concrete. Protect your facility by performing regular maintenance inspections and maintain healthy ventilation throughout your building.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are chemical compounds that vaporize at low temperatures. They are typically aromatic and can be found in paints, cleaning products, fabrics, pesticides, and upholstery. Not all are dangerous, but synthetic VOCs can cause damage to health after long-term exposure. The best way to prevent exposure is by limiting your staff’s exposure to cleaning products and other synthetics with known VOCs. A high-quality ventilation system will also limit exposure.
Formaldehyde is a common VOC with a very distinct odor. It is used in flooring materials, paints, and fabrics. While formaldehyde is very common, it can cause respiratory problems after prolonged exposure. By eliminating common sources of formaldehyde in your facility, as well as installing a quality ventilation system, you can ensure excellent indoor air quality for your employees and customers.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the most well-known indoor air pollutant, for it can be deadly. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and incredibly dangerous, which is why you need a CO detector in your facility. Install a detector in every office building and staffed area of your facility.
While many pollutants are man-made, our environment also causes a substantial number of health risks. The EPA lists several biological indoor air pollutants common in commercial buildings including:
- Dried rodent urine
- Mildew spores and hyphae
Avoid these pollutants with proper ventilation and regular cleaning of your facility.
If you have questions about the risks and prevention method for indoor air pollution, contact MaintenX today.