Which one is dangerous – IAQ or the Outdoor Air Quality?

A common misconception or a myth (to be precise,) that we have been facing off since ages is that the indoor air is safer than the outdoor. IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) is the most underrated one. You might agree with this statement which further creates more doubt and complexity.

The major distinction between the two hasn’t been defined and understood by the corporate entities, hence this article. Indoor air has major issues that the Corporate wouldn’t have thought of.

indoor air

At the end of the article you will surely realise that Yes, IAQ should not be neglected.

Let us first understand the exact meaning of IAQ and outdoor air pollution.

Air pollution is generally categorized into three parts:

1. Vehicular Pollution which is caused by the increased use of vehicles which disposes of a lot of chemicals and air toxics.
2. Industrial pollution caused by several industries that emit harsh chemicals and exhausts throughout.
3. Domestic air pollution is due to the volatile organic compounds (VOC) whose main sources are adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, pesticides, cleaning agents, etc.

Outdoor air pollution comprises mainly the vehicular and industrial pollutants mentioned above which pollute the air on a large scale.

On the other side, IAQ refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.
Less ventilation facility, closed doors, multiple people respiring and generation of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the walls makes the indoor air 10X times more polluted.

IAQ is affected mainly by the following reasons:

1. Location– If the Corporate Offices are located on the periphery of any industries, there are high chances of poor IAQ at the corporate buildings
2. Ventilation – There should be proper ventilation in the offices for the air toxins to pass out and avoid contamination
3. Atmosphere– The atmosphere around a corporate building hampers the IAQ for e.g. the rise in the humidity causes profuse sweating & discomfort, promoting mold growth, dust mites, and musty odour
4. HVAC– If the HVAC system is not maintained it leads to biological growth (pollen, bacteria, viruses, fungus, molds, etc) in the system affecting the IAQ

Moreover, the effects of poor IAQ are infinite. They result in several diseases in the organisation. One of the major diseases is the SBS.

SBS– The sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building.

Air Conditioners and Ventilation ducts add to the rising Indoor Air Pollution, provided those are not maintained and checked regularly. Settled dust, continuously rising paintwork in the building, rising temperature due to improper infrastructure, lack of indoor plants, poor outdoor environment – all of these contribute to the establishment of SBS in a healthy building.

SBS

The symptoms of the Sick Building Syndrome are:

– A headache – with varying degrees of dizziness, nausea, eye, sensitivity to odours, fatigue
-Nose or throat irritation, dry cough
-Increased asthma attacks – or shortness of breath over mild exertion
-Itching skin
-There’s one more cause for concern – pneumonia-like Legionnaire’s disease – which is caused due to contamination of cooling towers by Legionella organisms, which is a dangerous bacteria
-Humidifier fever – caused by breathing in water droplets from humidifiers heavily contaminated with microorganisms causing respiratory infections- is noninfective in nature. The patient may have flu-like symptoms
-These symptoms are essentially related to the air quality inside the building. The complainants may require prolonged recovery time after leaving the building

The ill-effects of all the above factors are huge and can affect the Corporate Company in a massive way –
1. Loss of the employee’s peace of mind
2. Inability to focus or concentrate on office tasks and daily work
3. Delay in meeting project deadlines
4. Erratic behaviour with colleagues
5. Loss to the company due to inability to meet the project deadlines
6. Inability to meet the quarterly or annual targets, resulting in lower or negligible ROI of the MNC.

The solutions to this?
Identify– It is important to identify the symptoms in the company that is affecting the employees. Also, identifying the causes of the poor air quality considering the factors like humidity, atmosphere, and location.

Tests– Regular indoor air quality testing should be done for maintaining good air quality levels in the Corporate. Undergoing tests shall identify the causes and will help to take preventive actions.
Remember, air and environment-related tests should be conducted by only those labs which follow the International Standards and References.

Training Programmes– Imparting information and creating awareness by means of training can make employees and the facility managers know the ways to work around the increasing indoor pollution.
With this, individual contribution to decreasing air pollution can begin in a company. A holistic approach can also be adapted to develop series of Good Practices that can bring down the indoor pollution level.

There also has to be a standard document and guidelines prepared by the company, to ensure the air and the atmosphere remain safe and hygienic for the members. Building infrastructure can be quite tricky – every aspect needs to be taken into consideration to achieve a 360 – degree health security.

Taking a small step before a major calamity can save millions on health treatments and company revenues. Hence, it is important that company administrators work with Specialised Air Quality Experts to ensure health and growth in company’s brand.

Remember – Increase in pollution and a parallel increase in SBS can lead to absenteeism and loss of productivity, eventually causing company’s loss of revenue.

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A sufficient amount of knowledge has been gathered on the Corporate IAQ front. If you wish to empower yourself on the Corporate Food Safety & Nutrition, Orange book is your guide to the same. To get your free copy right away, click here.

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