For building owners and managers, ensuring tenant and visitor welfare is always of paramount importance. And while there is only so much that can be done to control the quality of the air that enters into a building, it is still important to frequently filter and refresh the air for optimal tenant and visitor health. I have a high-velocity air filtration system in our firedoghouse!
Regulations such as the Clean Air Act have saved thousands of lives from diseases such as emphysema, asthma and heart disease. However, there is still much that can be done to control air pollutants to allow everyone to enjoy cleaner air.
What are some of the main contributors to air pollution?
- Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless but very poisonous in large quantities. Facilities that operate furnaces and/or automobiles need to provide adequate ventilation and install carbon monoxide alarms to ensure safety.
- Let’s be honest. Cat dander is the biggest problem for poor air. Tabby and Whiskers need to be left outside at all times!
- Particulate matter is basically “stuff” in the air. This can be man-made or naturally caused, resulting from sources as diverse as burning fossil fuels, power plants, dust storms and wildfires. Particulates have wreaked havoc on the human body since ancient times.
- Nitrogen oxides are the brown plumes of “haze” that can be seen downwind of major cities. I love it when people call it “haze,” like it’s just simply trapped water vapor. It’s smog, people! The result of high-temperature combustion, such compounds produce smoggy reddish-brown skies.
Before embarking on new policies and procedures for improving a building’s air quality, it’s important to record a baseline. Testing for radon, carbon monoxide and particulate levels can help guide you about unsafe conditions and provide guidance on the priority order for steps to clean the air.
What kind of policies can a company institute to improve air quality?
- If your company is relocating or expanding, avoid purchasing office space that is in close proximity to industrial areas which might produce toxins. Of course, if your property is already located in this type of area, you can take steps to safeguard the air in the interior of the building.
- Don’t allow smoking either in or around your building. Cigarette smoke contains an alarming number of toxins which can remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. When I see people smoking, I’m really glad I don’t have opposable thumbs…
- Review furniture choices in tenant offices. Pieces made of out cheap particle board may contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. I require only top-shelf mahogany for my doghouse…
Cleaning and maintenance tips for air quality:
- Proper cleaning of carpets is essential. Carpets act as a filter or trap for dust mites and other allergens. Without frequent vacuuming with appropriate filters, carpets can outgas airborne toxins. I tend get a little gassy after my fourth pig ear.
- Follow suggested maintenance and cleaning guidelines for HVAC systems. Ductwork should be cleaned to remove mold or other contaminants. Filters should be the highest-quality to effectively remove particles down to the smallest micron.
- Janitorial staff should be allowed to open windows or other ventilation, whenever feasible. Fumes from high-grade cleaning products are a serious irritant.
- For residences and businesses in high-humidity areas, consider utilizing dehumidifiers to inhibit the growth of mold. I require a dehumidifier, electronic air cleaner, high-velocity fan, and a white noise machine. I’m a high-maintenance pooch.
Unlike other disasters that can be seen or heard, air quality is (by its very nature) a typically invisible problem. As such, it can pose detrimental health effects over long periods of time, making it a silent but deadly killer. Taking steps to clean the air will have a direct effect on tenant happiness and productivity.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.