Common Mistakes that Can Lead to Poor Indoor Air Quality

A Host of Potential Respiratory Hazards

Employees within the workplace can be exposed to substances known as asthmagens. As the name rightfully suggests, these airborne materials can irritate the lungs, nose and throat. There are even times when long-term inhalation can actually lead to asthma in adults. Here are some common examples of asthmagens:

  • Specific types of spray paint.
  • Dust caused by flour and wood.
  • Fluids used when working with metals (such as lubricants and etching solutions).
  • Cleaning agents.

Not only can these elements lead to asthma, but those who are already suffering from specific respiratory conditions such as COPD are more likely to experience severe symptoms.

The Presence of Toxic Particulate Matter and Noxious Gases

Some industrial environments are associated with unique hazards. One example can be seen in the release of dangerous particles and chemicals through common welding processes. Silica dust is another hazard, as these fine particles can remain trapped in the lungs and cause a great deal of damage. Accidents in the workplace such as an asbestos fire can cause irreparable physical harm to the respiratory system, so all of the chemicals mentioned above need to be taken very seriously.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Many industrial and commercial environments may inadvertently expose their employees to substances known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds are dangerous because they passively emit harmful gases. If they are contained within an indoor atmosphere with little ventilation, their concentrations can reach harmful levels. One industry commonly associated with volatile organic compounds is the cleaning sector. Some mild symptoms directly related to exposure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Skin allergies
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

However, it is just as important to note a handful of serious long-term effects:

  • Harm to the kidneys, liver and central nervous system.
  • Some types of cancer.
  • Permanent memory impairment.
  • Decreases in the levels of certain hormones and neurotransmitters.

One recent study found that women who worked as cleaners and were regularly exposed to volatile organic compounds experienced a pronounced decrease in their lung function. It is now clear to see that the best way to avert the situations mentioned above is to implement a plan to safely monitor indoor air quality on a regular basis.

Additional Poor Air Quality Causes

There are numerous other scenarios which can directly contribute to poor indoor air quality. Common examples include appliances that burn fuel as a source of combustion and tobacco products. It is also wise to point out that building materials and certain furnishings can play an important role. Here are additional examples:

  • Insulation containing asbestos that has begun to deteriorate.
  • New carpets, flooring and upholstery.
  • Pressed wood products (common in cabinetry and furniture).
  • Personal care and cleaning chemicals.
  • Systems involved with central heating and cooling.
  • Excessive levels of moisture.

Even seemingly unrelated elements such as radon or pesticides designed for outdoor use can cause problems with indoor air quality.

The Intermittent Release of Pollutants

Additionally, some pollutants are more insidious because they are released gradually. For example, air fresheners and glue used to hang wallpaper can present very real hazards. Machinery that is not functioning properly (such as an engine that burns petrol inefficiently) will inevitably lead to health problems if left unchecked.

The Importance of Obtaining an Air Quality Survey

It is now completely apparent that poor air quality causes numerous health and environmental hazards. This is why it is crucial to discover any hazards that may be present. Monitoring the levels of specific pollutants is the best way to ensure that safety remains a top priority.

The professionals at Air Quality Plan are pleased to offer a wide range of services and these can be tailored around the needs of the property in question. If you would like to learn more or to schedule a consultation, please do not hesitate to send us an enquiry at your convenience, or call us on 01489 668985.

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