Office Air Quality

Jeff Mlekush, coordinator safety operations

We spend most of our lives in indoor environments. If you think about it, out of 24 hours in a day, you are probably spending over 20 hours inside. So, the quality of these inside environments can really affect our health in adverse ways if we don’t actively participate in making them better.

Here is a list of items you can do to promote a healthy environment at work and at home:

1. Make sure trash cans are emptied at least once per week.

Leaving trash around for extended periods of time can allow mold and bacteria to thrive. Pests such as mice and roaches also enjoy the feasts you leave for them in your trash cans. All of these have the potential to affect your health.

2. Dust routinely.

A dusty environment can become airborne easily and exacerbate allergies. We have also seen mold growth caused by the combination of excessive surface dust and high humidity in offices.

3. Leave AC and Heating on.

If you can control the heating and air conditioning in your office, never turn it completely off. The filters on the systems help reduce dust and the circulating air helps reduce humidity thereby reducing the chances of mold colonization.

4. Do not use plug-in air fresheners.

Plug-in air fresheners emit volatile organic compounds (VOC). The VOC are what you smell when you use the air fresheners. Some people experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat as well as nausea and headaches from exposure to particular VOC to which they are sensitive.

5. De-clutter your office.

If you are keeping hard copies of documents past any required retention time, you may be contributing to an environment conducive to microbiological growth, exacerbating allergies, or possibly injury from a trip and fall. You may want to look into electronic document storage if your paper documents are building up excessively.

Contact EHS if you are experiencing issues you think may be caused by your office environment. We can conduct an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) evaluation to attempt to identify potential sources.