By Kennedy Shelley
Your coworker with bad breath may seem like the cause of low air quality in your office, but the reality is everyone is polluting indoor air.
In a recent study of indoor air quality, especially in an office environment, it was discovered that people are the real reason for pollution.
And it’s not just our breath or breathing, it’s all the stuff we put on, from deodorants to perfume that contributes to bad air.
Bad air quality, or air pollution has a negative effect on health. After all, we all need air to live, so lower quality of air means health problems.
Everything from cancer, heart disease as well as respiratory illnesses can often be linked to various air pollutants.
We want to blame the bus that passes us when we walk down the street with its belching exhaust, but there is so much ambient air outside that this has little effect on us.
Because we are crammed in the office environment for 40 hours a week in a fairly closed atmosphere, this is where we will actually have the most contact with contaminated air.
How do you know if the air in your office is good, and what affects it? These were the questions answered at a recent conference in Portland, OR in October.
Scientists at Purdue University sought to ferret out the sources of pollution in the modern office and odds are you are one of the culprits.
Better air quality not only preserves the health of the workers, it also improves productivity in the workplace.
Understand that the airflow in a building is constantly changing. As it gets warmer or colder, the climate control fans kick on moving more air around, which improves air quality.
So, to see how this works out in real life, the team from Purdue set up complex sensors to check the air in the office during the day. These work like an electronic nose to constantly sniff out potential pollutants.
They even put sensors in the chairs to see when people were there.
Many of the polluting compounds were much higher inside than out. 10-20 times higher.
One pollutant is usiorebe. This is a potentially flammable compound that you probably would smell as soon as you open up a bottle of essential oil.
It also appears every time you exhale.
You may be familiar with ozone as a pollutant. Some towns warn you of high ozone levels. We are told not to drive or cut the grass during high ozone days.
But in an office, peeling an orange has the same effect.
Ozone particles can get stuck in the lung, causing long term health problems.
And you add in all the chemicals we drag into the office because we use makeup, put product in our hair, not to mention soap, shampoos, and deodorants our office air is full of polluting chemicals.
And this doesn’t count the guy who burned his popcorn in the microwave.
As these scientists look more and more at indoor air quality and the link between productivity and reduced indoor air pollution becomes clearer, expect businesses to pay more attention to get better are making sure our indoor air quality improves.