New research suggests that the greatest pollutants of office air are humans, who unwittingly carry and disperse unhealthful volatile compounds by wearing deodorant and even by breathing. Generally speaking, however, when we think of air pollution, we think primarily of the air we breathe when out on the streets of metropolitan areas. Thus, the quality of office air can be just as instrumental in predicting whether or not individuals continue to experience good health. How can we tell if office air quality is adequate, and what are the greatest pollutants of office air? If we want to provide better air quality for office workers to improve their productivity, it is important to first understand what’s in the air and what factors influence the emissions and removal of pollutants.
What You Can Do to Improve the Indoor Air in Your Office:
- Do not block air vents or grilles.
- Comply with the office and building smoking policy.
- Water and maintain office plants properly.
- Dispose of garbage promptly and properly.
- Store food properly.
- Avoid bringing products into the building that could release harmful or bothersome odors or contaminants.
- Notify your building or facility manager immediately if you suspect an indoor air quality problem.
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If You Manage an Office:
- Maintain a good working relationship with building management on indoor environmental issues.
- Place office furniture and equipment with air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system in mind.
- Coordinate with building management in instances when responsibility for design, operation and maintenance of the ventilation system is shared.
- Establish an effective smoking policy that protects nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Avoid procedures and products that can cause indoor air quality problems.
- Integrate indoor air quality concerns into your purchasing decisions.
- Work with the building manager to ensure use of only necessary and appropriate pest control practices, and nonchemical methods where possible.
- Work with building management and the contractor before you remodel or renovate to identify ways of keeping building occupant exposure to pollutants to a minimum and to ensure that the air distribution system is not disrupted.