Until recently, you might not have given much thought to the quality of air inside your home or office.
But now, building managers, safety professionals, and homeowners are all asking the same question: Is my indoor air healthy?
Studies show that indoor air can be 3-5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. This can contribute to a host of health problems including asthma, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. Improving the quality of your indoor air can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses and allergens. Not only that, but healthy indoor air can also have a significant impact on the comfort and well-being of building occupants.
For businesses, an investment in indoor air quality can pay big dividends. In fact, the EPA estimates that better indoor air could save the nation tens of billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and medical care.
Fortunately, indoor air quality is something we can control. In honor of National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month, here are ten simple steps you can take to improve the quality of air where you work and live.
- Open a window. Whether at home or at work, opening a window is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase ventilation.
- Change your air filter. Dirty filters won’t pick up dust and allergens like they’re supposed to. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHRAE recommends that non-healthcare buildings improve central air and other HVAC filtration to MERV-13 (ASHRAE 2017b) or the highest level achievable.
- Always read and follow instructions on cleaning products. Make sure cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting chemicals are used and stored properly and that employees have access to safety data sheets (SDSs).
- Consider using antimicrobial doormats at entrances to trap dirt and debris before they come inside. At home, remove your shoes at the door.
- Inspect air supply vents and returns. Furniture, boxes, and other obstructions can disrupt air flow and force your HVAC system to work harder.
- See if your HVAC system can be adjusted to pull in a higher ratio of outdoor air. An HVAC professional can help you with this.
- Consider using portable, free-standing HEPA fans or filtration systems to help clean indoor air.
- Establish a smoke- and vape-free workplace policy. These policies ensure that secondhand smoke exposure does not occur at work by prohibiting smoking and vaping except in designated outdoor areas away from the building. See a sample policy here.
- Educate staff about their role in protecting indoor air quality. Simple steps everyone can take include staying home if you’re sick, following the company’s smoking policy, and notifying a manager if you suspect an indoor air quality issue.
- Implement a system for reporting indoor air quality problems. If you use Perillon’s Workspace XPress mobile app, employees can report concerns through the app quickly and easily.