The indoor environment plays an extremely important role in our health. At work, where we spend most of our day, poor indoor air quality can have harmful impacts.
Asthma and other respiratory problems, allergies, headaches, fatigue and dizziness are among the main symptoms that can alert you to poor indoor air quality in your premises. On the contrary, good indoor air quality will have a positive impact on the performance of your employees.
What are the indoor air pollutants ?
Indoor air quality is determined by a set of interactions between: the outdoor environment, materials and equipment related to the construction of the building, the furniture and/or materials placed inside, and the occupants and use of the dwellings. (Source: Practical Guide – Indoor Air Quality Management. Ministry of Health and Institute for Health Monitoring)
Chemical pollutants are the most monitored. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are highly volatile chemical substances and can therefore easily become airborne. They can be naturally occurring, but the most harmful are those generally found in paint solvents.
Pollutants can also be biological in nature: fungus, mold, bacteria, viruses, etc…
What are the recommendations for indoor air quality?
Currently, there are no legal obligations for employers to address indoor air pollution. Organizations such as the OQAI (Indoor Air Quality Observatory), the ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety), or the WHO (World Health Organization) are taking the lead in raising public awareness about indoor air pollution.
These organizations are working to define tolerance thresholds for indoor air concentrations of chemical substances, based on current health knowledge. These data are made available to the public, since indoor air quality is a public health and well-being issue, but also a corporate performance issue.
So, how can indoor air quality be improved? What are the right gestures to adopt to improve indoor air quality? Here are a few tips:
How can indoor air quality be sustainably improved?
The issue of indoor air quality has been the subject of many preconceived ideas. To improve indoor air quality, however, it is necessary to know a few basics.
It is obvious that regular ventilation is effective in renewing indoor air. Nevertheless, it happens that the outside air itself is sometimes charged with fine particles or other polluting substances. A ventilated area is less likely to be loaded with harmful substances. This is particularly the case in sensitive areas of the house such as the kitchen and bathroom.
In reality, whether or not you need to open windows depends directly on your ventilation or air filtration system. If your system is sufficiently efficient, you may prefer to open windows during pollution peaks rather than open them.
A good heating system
Heating is an important element to consider when looking for the causes of poor indoor air quality. There is a simple reason for this: most heating systems tend to dry out indoor air. Since dry air promotes the suspension of particles in the air, controlling the intensity and quality of heating is a real health issue.
If you cannot change your entire heating system immediately, opt for air purifiers. They allow you to regulate the humidity level in the air.
Opting for an indoor air quality measurement solution
Ventilation and heating are not the only factors that affect the indoor air quality of a building. The substances contained in cleaning products or scented candles have a very high dispersal capacity in the air. Similarly, passive smoking continues to have an influence on the air quality in our buildings even though smoking has been banned since 2007.
Changing our habits is essential to maintain a good level of indoor air quality. But the best way to control it is to measure it regularly. Specialized devices are available for this purpose. They analyze both the humidity level and the concentration of harmful or allergenic substances in the air.
In addition to an action plan to improve indoor air quality, investing in a measurement solution will necessarily have a positive impact on the air quality in your premises. Good indoor air quality management is also beneficial for the environment.