As employees begin to return to in-person work setup, staying on top of indoor air quality (IAQ) will help protect their wellbeing and reduce the risk of virus transmission while at work. But before implementing any indoor air quality technologies and solutions in a built environment, it is important to have a well-designed air quality management process to make sure that all the strategies applied will deliver the most positive results.
Today, uHoo will walk you through the steps that you can take to effectively evaluate your IAQ and the positive outcomes an air quality management process can present.
First Step: Understanding indoor air quality
Before solving a problem, you must first get an overview of it, understand what indoor air quality is, and the factors that can affect it.
Indoor air quality is the quality of the air present within and around a built environment. Some factors that contribute to indoor air quality are:
- Building ventilation
- Chemicals used inside the building
- Building location
- The number of occupants
- The activities done by the occupants inside the building
Second Step: Knowing the sources
For you to improve your building’s IAQ, you must understand the major air pollutants and their sources. The primary sources of indoor air pollution are:
- Particulate matter that is generated by printing, photocopying and operating equipment.
- VOCs that can come from cleaning chemicals, paints and furniture
- Carbon dioxide which is released by people when breathing and can elevate when there is no proper ventilation
- Tobacco smoke that clings to a smoker’s clothes and body, and is taken inside the building.
- Molds due to high humidity levels. Molds are commonly found in comfort rooms, tiles, windows and walls.
Third Step: Analyzing the problem
Being able to discover the sources of indoor air quality at work is only a part of finding a solution. To be able to completely prevent problems in IAQ, we must be able to identify when poor air is present.
Signs of poor air quality
- Poor indoor air quality at work can manifest in frequent coughing, respiratory infections, fatigue, headaches, or nausea.
- Damage to building materials such as cracks, warpings, fractures, sags, chips, and more, due to unregulated humidity
- Weird smells due to gas and particle build up.
Fourth Step: Improving your IAQ
When an indoor air quality problem occurs, it is important to act on it as quickly as possible. Here are some of the straightforward solutions that you can take:
- Always keep your air ducts and ventilation system clean and updated
- Remove particulate matter on floors and carpeted areas
- Maintain a healthy level of humidity
- Keep your office smoke-free
Fifth Step: Have an indoor air quality monitoring system in place
This last step is the most crucial step in the entire IAQ management process. By having an indoor air quality monitor installed inside your building, you’ll be able to discover the presence of air pollutants and ensure that the strategies and any other adjustments to improve IAQ are effective.
Indoor air quality monitoring systems can also help spread knowledge about indoor air quality and your building’s current IAQ status as these devices come with a dashboard that offers features present IAQ readings via website or large screens.
The importance of Air Quality Index in creating an effective air quality management process
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an essential tool for assessing air quality and understanding its impact on public health. It provides a simple and understandable way to report air quality information and can help guide decision-making to protect public health and the environment.
When it comes to air quality management, there are different AQI scales used worldwide. For example, the United States uses a scale that ranges from 0 to 300, with six categories ranging from “good” to “hazardous.” While the European AQI uses a scale ranging from 0 to 1250 (depending on the type of pollutant being measured) with categories ranging from “very good” to “very poor.”
Aside from its objective, which is to communicate and alert people to high levels of pollution, organizations can also use AQI to make informed decisions about air quality management, including identifying pollution sources and evaluating the effectiveness of pollution control measures.
Outcomes of air quality management
When done properly and accurately, an air quality management process can provide a range of positive outcomes, including:
Improved occupant health
Indoor air pollution can cause respiratory problems, heart disease, and other health issues. An effective air quality management process can help reduce the levels of harmful pollutants in the air, leading to improved public health outcomes.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
One of the outcomes of a neatly followed air quality management process can include measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as promoting the use of clean energy sources or encouraging energy efficiency. This can help mitigate climate change and its impacts.
Air quality management can lead to economic benefits, such as reduced healthcare costs and increased worker productivity.
Improved quality of life
Clean air can enhance the quality of life for individuals and communities by reducing the negative impacts of air pollution on health, the environment, and the economy.