Could the Air in Your Office Be Making Staff Sick

Breathing is something we all take for granted. Frankly, imagine if we didn’t?! We probably wouldn’t get much done. But what is in the air that we’re breathing?

Poor hygiene and harsh chemicals in an office environment can contribute to poor air quality. In an office environment, where staff are likely not expecting to need respirators, it can have some nasty symptoms. Dizziness, sore throats, chesty coughs, headaches, eye irritation, persistent drowsiness… not attributes an employer wishes to see in their workforce.

As an employer or business owner, making sure staff have a healthy and safe working environment should be a priority. The commercial cleaning schedule should form a part of this, especially given the effect it has on air quality.

The NASA Clean Air Study

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) know a fair amount about keeping the air nice and fresh in enclosed spaces. It’s an essential part of keeping their astronauts fit and healthy.

Way back in 1989, NASA launched (sorry…) its famous ‘Clean Air’ research. It was the first notable study to champion indoor plants as a highly effective way to rid the inside atmosphere of harmful toxins.

In fact, NASA recommends including one plant per square foot of space in order to dramatically lower the count of trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and ammonia in the air.

These tongue-twisting toxins can be found in an array of everyday office items. Printer inks, adhesives, plywood, synthetic fabrics, detergents, furniture wax and even paper towels spew them out.

Improving office air quality

In addition to a visit to the garden centre, there are other steps which you can take to improve air hygiene in the office.

Open windows

It might sound painfully obvious but it really is a great way to get the fresh air flowing and encourage germs and toxins to be gone.

Keep your air vents clear

As well as making sure vents aren’t obstructed with clutter or furniture, check that they’re included in the cleaning schedule. It will help ensure that the circulating air isn’t picking things up on its way through the vent. It’s also a good idea to replace the filters every 6 – 12 months.

Consider office fabrics

Some fabrics are more prone to harbouring dust and other unwanted particles, and can be more difficult to clean thoroughly. Choosing anti-allergen and antibacterial materials can be a big help.

Look out for low VOCs

Use cleaning products which have low (or no) volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as these tend to make products denser in toxins. This can also help control unwanted odours

Is the quality of the air in your workspace something you’re already working hard to clean your act up on? Perhaps it wasn’t even on your radar before reading this article. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!