It’s easy to assume the air in your office is safe and comfortable if your fire alarm and carbon monoxide monitor aren’t ringing. Unfortunately, if you want your office to be healthy for you and your family, you should start paying attention to other factors that could be affecting your air quality. Don’t worry--we’ve rounded up the five most important factors that contribute to the air in your office, and how they could be affecting you:
1. Chemicals (VOCs)
When we measure the “chemicals” in your air, we’re specifically on the lookout for VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Many common building materials, household products, and indoor activities emit VOCs into your air. VOCs include a variety of different chemicals, including Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Acetone.
Like carbon dioxide, VOCs aren’t acutely toxic, and having small amounts in our air is inevitable. However, higher concentrations of VOCs can lead to a variety of health problems, including eczema flare-ups, allergies, asthma, and headaches.
2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Although it has a bit of a reputation, carbon dioxide is a natural component of our air.
CO2 is added to the air from a variety of sources--including humans. In fact, we play a major role in the levels of indoor carbon dioxide levels.
Carbon dioxide is safe in small doses, however, too much carbon dioxide in a small area--like a bedroom or office--can lead to drowsiness, headaches, decreased productivity, and poor sleep quality.
Want to learn more about how carbon dioxide affects you? We broke down everything you need to know about CO2 here.
Dust triggers allergies for about 20 million Americans, and unlike pollen, dust can occur year-round. It’s no surprise since one piece of dust contains a potpourri of unpleasant items, like dead skin, mold spores, pieces of dead insects, and pet dander. Although large dust particles can be seen by the naked eye, fine dust particles (PM2.5) are often invisible and can have serious health consequences.
Dust can also cause itchiness, asthma, eczema, and hay fever. Exposure to dust mites has also been linked to conjunctivitis, hypersensitive pneumonia, and both allergic and migraine headaches.
Your house can have dust mites even if it isn’t very dirty. Sometimes cleaning can do more harm than good — vacuuming can stir up dust mites off your carpet and into the air.
How can you get rid of dust mites, then? Dust mites love dark, moist places, with temperatures of 70℉ or higher and humidity over 75%. Regulating your temperature and humidity can help prevent dust mites from spreading throughout your house.
Temperature affects you in more ways than you realize--studies show that significant changes in temperature can cause you to become less productive and have trouble completing physical and mental tasks.
For the best comfort and productivity, stick to two temperature ranges, depending on the time of year:
Summer: 73℉ - 79℉
Winter: 68℉ - 76℉
And if you’re aiming for peak work performance, your productivity is at its best between 70℉ and 72℉.
Maintaining your indoor temperature is important beyond comfort and productivity--when temperatures are high, the chemicals found in buildings will leak into your air at a faster rate.
Humidity plays an important role in your overall comfort, and too high or low humidity can cause health problems. You are the most comfortable when the relative humidity of the air around you is between 20 percent and 60 percent.
If your indoor humidity climbs above 60 percent, you begin to risk mold and mildew growth in your office. On the other hand, if your indoor humidity is below 20 percent, you’ll start to experience eye, nose, skin, and throat irritation. If you wear contact lenses, they can become irritated when the humidity is too low.
Take Control of Your Environment
At BizCare, we believe that knowledge is power. BizCare monitors all five air quality factors listed above, alerts you when readings become unhealthy and provides personalized recommendations to improve the safety of your space.