Why Indoor Air Quality Is Often Worse Than Outdoor Air Quality

If you are a facility manager or owner of a commercial or industrial building, you can take action to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been receiving an increasing number of inquiries on how IAQ can be improved.

This has resulted in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) taking action and completing more than 600 indoor air quality investigations in the office buildings under the Health Hazard Evaluation Program.

Not only do owners and facility managers need to make an effort toward improving air quality, but the staff and occupants of the building need to get involved as well. IAQ, whether commercial or industrial, is a community effort.

That’s why in this blog post, Comfort First Products is going to share the factors that contribute to IAQ, what owners and facility managers can do to improve IAQ, and how staff and occupants can get involved to help improve IAQ.

Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

Indoor air quality can impact health, well-being, and performance. Did you know that humans on average spend 93 percent of their time indoors? 87 percent of that time is in a building, and the other six percent is in an automobile. What’s more, the EPA shared another study that showed that “concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.”

This means that building, facility, and business managers have an obligation to ensure that the IAQ of their building or facility is being addressed regularly to keep the environment clean and healthy for themselves, staff, occupants, employees, and more.

What Factors Contribute To Indoor Air Quality?

The reason indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality is the ability to filter pollutants, chemicals, and allergens from the air before they come into contact with staff or occupants. In fact, IAQ is not an easily defined problem like a broken desk drawer or a leaky faucet; it’s a complex issue that includes many factors. Also, heat, dust, and moisture all play a role in indoor air quality. Some of those factors are listed below:

  • Types and levels of pollutants, allergens, or chemicals in the environment
  • Sources of pollutants
  • HVAC design, maintenance, and ventilation
  • Dust, moisture, and humidity of the indoor environment
  • Staff and occupants susceptibilities to pollutants, chemicals, and allergens
  • Age of the building

All of these factors and more must be accounted for before a successful and effective IAQ strategy is enacted. Here are three steps you need to take to manage the IAQ of your building or office:

  1. Remove or isolate pollutant sources to better mitigate negative effects indoor.
  2. Dilute pollutants and remove them from indoor via ventilation.
  3. Utilize effective air filtration to scrub the air of pollutants.

How Owners and Facility Managers Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

As an owner or facility manager, it’s important you take indoor air quality seriously. It directly affects the health of all the staff and occupants in the building. In some case, IAQ will involve more than one person. For example, an owner of a building may work with a maintenance crew and specific staff members to better manager IAQ. Furthermore, a facility manager may work with the landlord, building tenant, and a local HVAC company to improve the HVAC system and the IAQ.

Here are nine ways owners and facility managers can work to improve IAQ:

  1. Foster a relationship with building maintenance and/or landlord so that taking steps to improve indoor air quality and environment issues is an option.
  2. Position furniture, plants, equipment, and more to enhance the environment, IAQ, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions.
  3. Coordinate and cooperate with building maintenance when HVAC maintenance or updates are needed, Including regular filter replacements.
  4. Establish a clear, effective smoking policy.
  5. Define and avoid processes or products that can negatively affect IAQ.
  6. Include IAQ into all indoor environment purchasing decisions.
  7. Communicate with landlords, building owners, or managers to ensure pest control is only used when necessary, and, if possible, non-chemical treatments are the chosen method.
  8. Identify and communicate with building managers before any renovation or remodeling occurs to mitigate environmental pollutants.
  9. Introduce and encourage your building management team to use the EPA/NIOSH guidance document.

How Staff and Occupants Can Get Involved In Improving IAQ

When it comes to IAQ, it’s a group effort. The staff and occupants of a building can influence IAQ, and they can take action to help improve it. Here are the six ways staff and occupants can help with enhancing IAQ:

  1. Filter the office air.
  2. Keep air vents and/or grilles unblocked and clean.
  3. Comply with the smoking policy for the building or office.
  4. Report water leaks immediately, maintain office plants routinely and clean up liquid spills as soon as possible.
  5. Collect and dispose of garbage and trash promptly.
  6. Be mindful of proper food storage.
  7. If you suspect an IAQ issue, notify the owner, building manager, or facility manager promptly.

Comfort First Products: Your Solution To Indoor Air Quality

At Comfort First Products, our mission is to provide our customers with a variety of products that improve office comfort, health, and wellbeing. Whether you are a facility manager, business owner, landlord, or otherwise, the indoor air quality of your building is crucial to the health and safety of yourself, the staff, the occupants, and more. It’s time you shop our indoor air quality and comfort products online now.