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Indoor air quality issues

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The indoor environmental air quality at your workplace can be affected by a number of factors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. These factors include caulks, sealants and coatings; paints and varnishes; wall coverings; cleaning agents; carpeting and vinyl flooring; furniture fabrics; and air fresheners and other scented products such as perfumes.

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that workers may experience adverse health effects from indoor air pollutants soon after exposure – or years later. Potential health issues include headaches; dizziness and fatigue; and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

However, these issues can be overcome. “Even though the factors that affect the quality of the indoor environment are numerous, the good news is that most indoor environmental problems can be prevented or corrected easily and inexpensively through the application of common sense and vigilance on the part of everyone in the building,” EPA states.

Maintaining good IAQ

Both workers and management can take steps to help maintain good indoor air quality. For employees, EPA recommends the following:

  • Refrain from blocking air vents, as doing so can unbalance your office’s HVAC system and affect the ventilation of neighboring offices.
  • Comply with your building’s smoking policy and smoke only in designated areas.
  • Clean up spills immediately and report any water leaks to management to avoid the possibility of mold growth.
  • Dispose of all garbage promptly in the proper receptacle.
  • Store food properly. Do not leave food in your desks or on shelves.
  • Contact building management if you suspect an IAQ problem.

EPAs tips for employers include

  • Maintain a good working relationship with building management regarding IAQ issues.
  • Regularly check your building’s HVAC system to ensure it’s in good working order, and coordinate with building management “when responsibility for design, operation and maintenance of the ventilation system is shared,” EPA states.
  • Create a policy that protects non-smokers from secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Refrain from using products that can cause IAQ problems.
  • Use pest control products only when necessary, and non-chemical methods if possible.

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