Office Workers at Table

Running a business sure can be expensive! High-quality employees don’t come cheap and neither does their workspace. Every day, you have bills to pay, from utilities to supplies to vendors.

But alongside the oh-so-obvious costs of doing business, there are the less visible costs that can arise when your workforce isn’t feeling at their best.

When a worker begins to feel unwell, several things can occur simultaneously. Customer service quality decreases, as does overall quality of work output. Work team morale can suffer when any team member is compromised.

In time, there may be missed work hours for doctor visits and then whole sick days. And sick days can turn into extended absences that then become requests for long-term disability.

According to the Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), many symptoms that send workers to the doctor each week can be linked to poor workplace indoor air quality.

Is the air at work making your employees sick? Find out what you need to know to improve worker health and lower your office overhead costs!

Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome

“Sick building syndrome” is one of several health conditions that can arise from poor indoor air quality at work. The key to diagnosing it is workers linking symptoms specifically to time spent at their workplace and that cannot be linked to any other pre-existing unrelated health condition.

Symptoms of sick building syndrome can include:

  • Headache
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Mental fog
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Congestion
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Allergic reactions

As you can see, these symptoms could indicate any number of different known health conditions, of which poor indoor air quality would typically be the least likely suspect!

But when more than one worker experiences similar symptoms that become more pronounced while at work and abate after several hours away from the work site, poor indoor air quality then becomes a prime suspect.

Common Indoor Air Quality Contaminants

Poor indoor air quality, like the symptoms it inspires, can be tough to track down. After all, odour isn’t always a reliable indicator that the air inside your workplace is contaminated with toxins.

Sometimes, your indoor air may smell just fine (especially if you routinely use air freshening products for odour control) but still be unsafe to breathe.

Take carbon monoxide, for instance. This invisible, odourless gas is poisonous to the point at which it has earned the nickname “the silent killer.” By the time carbon monoxide has built up in the indoor air to a toxic level, it is often too late to do anything about it.

Common indoor air quality contaminants in the workplace can include:

  • Formaldehyde from pressed-wood office furnishings
  • Vapours from glues, adhesives, pesticides, solvents, disinfectants, etc.
  • Ozone from office equipment.
  • Tobacco by-products from smoking, vaping
  • Mould and mildew
  • Bacteria, fungi, microbial particulate matter
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Buildup of carbon dioxide from poor air circulation and ventilation

Other Contributors to Poor Workplace Indoor Air Quality

Sick building syndrome is typically not something that occurs overnight (although there is an issue called Building Related Illness that can be caused by a sudden build-up of chemicals, bacteria or fungal matter).

Buildings become “sick” over time due to a combination of unaddressed issues. A heavy concentration of indoor air contaminants can be one facet.

Another related issue is often poor indoor air circulation and ventilation. Inadequate filtration and air purification can also contribute to ever-worsening air quality in the workplace and the symptoms this can provoke.

When there is a continual influx of airborne toxins and no pathway to purify them, filter them out of the air, bring in new fresh air and circulate that air throughout the space, this is when the building itself can become toxic to its workers.

Four Steps to Improving Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we spend all day every day helping commercial and residential clients clean and purify the air they breathe.

When sick building syndrome or one of its precursors is suspected, we recommend this four-step process to diagnose and treat the issue and then prevent it from recurring.

Step 1: Conduct an indoor air quality test

The indoor air quality test takes 72 hours. The equipment is unobtrusive and silent. During the test period, air samples are collected continuously and analyzed for content. At test conclusion, you receive a full-color analysis of your indoor air content with improvement recommendations.

Step 2: Schedule an indoor air duct cleaning                

If you have heard the phrase “out with the old, in with the new,” this perfectly describes the necessary step of performing an indoor air duct cleaning. It is necessary to vacuum out trapped toxins, which can range from dust and insect debris to VOCs and bacteria, to prevent these toxins from re-entering your indoor air supply the next time your HVAC system cycles on.

Step 3: Install a filtration or purification system

You can choose between a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration system or an ultraviolet purification system. Both are experts at their job—stopping airborne toxins from entering your indoor air supply.

Step 4: Install a heat recovery ventilation system

Heat recovery ventilation (HRV) ensures a steady incoming stream of fresh, pure air that circulates throughout your workspace. A heat recovery ventilator also ensures your indoor air humidity levels are balanced to avoid buildup of mildew and mould.

Get in Touch

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2070 to start the process of purifying your indoor air at work!

Plus, right now and through June 30, 2018, save 10 percent on all indoor air duct cleaning packages!

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