Farms, bakeries, and textile factories are work environments that are not so friendly with the lungs. But just because you work inside a building, in a neat little corner with a computer, doesn’t mean that your lungs are safe. Lung health is dependent on the quality of the air you breathe, but you may be surprised at how the most innocuous things can have a detrimental effect on your health.

In fact, did you know that even traditional office spaces with cubicles and carpets can make your asthma worse?

How?

There are many sources of pollutants that affect indoor air quality inside offices. For instance, office furnishings are a rich source of pollutants. Many of the things you will find in the office are exceptionally good at trapping particulates and other pollutants that can greatly worsen the quality of the air you breathe.

Carpets.

They serve many purposes: absorb noise, define space, and blanket the cold floor. However, it’s a notorious source of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and formaldehyde—two things that can trigger asthma attacks or asthma-like symptoms and various allergies.

Adhesives.

They are also a source of VOCs, including acetone or methyl ethyl ketone, known to cause eye irritation and affect the nervous system.

Electronics.

You might like the smell of freshly printed paper, but electronics like laser printers and copiers are also sources of indoor air pollution. In a 2012 study, researchers concluded that “laser printers and photocopiers could be a relevant source of fine particles and particularly UFP (ultrafine particles) in office rooms.” These particles can get deep into the lungs and can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Cleaning and Disinfection Solutions.

Although it is an important measure in the fight against the coronavirus, the strong chemicals found in cleaning products are likely to trigger asthma attacks. Exposure to products that have high levels of hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, or peracetic acid may cause skin and respiratory irritations. Artificial fragrances in cleaning products are also asthma triggers.

It’s true that the nature of your job can worsen your asthma. But whether you work in a textile factory or in a posh office on the 32nd floor, you are always surrounded by chemicals and allergens that lead to poor indoor air quality and can trigger an asthma attack. The important thing to remember is that you are aware of your work environment, so you can take control. 

Knowing the air you breathe by having an indoor air quality monitor can help you on that task. With real-time monitoring of your air quality, you can address specific issues to improve the air you’re breathing and minimize the risk of asthma attacks.

While you may not be able to renovate the entire office’s ventilation system, there are some things that you can do:

  • Pick or request for an office space away from the printing area.
  • Place an indoor plant, as it helps absorb some toxins like formaldehyde.
  • Use a microfiber cloth, detergent, and water to clean your workspace.
  • Talk to your office manager about your health concerns.

Lastly, make sure to take frequent breaks. Work-related stress can also trigger asthma.