Impact of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) on Health, Wellness and Productivity?
What is Indoor Air Quality? The Environmental Protection Agency’s, (EPA), definition of Indoor Air Quality is the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to sick building syndrome, reduced productivity, impaired learning in schools among various other factors.
Health Impacts of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Public health awareness on Indoor Air Quality has lagged behind that on outdoor air pollution despite it being recognised as a top five environmental risk to public health. As we spend about 90% of our time indoors, it means that Indoor Air Quality can substantially influence our health, comfort, wellbeing, and productivity. Understanding and controlling a buildings indoor air quality and the common pollutants indoors has long been a critical factor in reducing the risk of indoor health concerns and can show an improvement in peoples heath and work performance.
Productivity and Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, airborne pollutants can be two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. After close monitoring and cleaning the indoor air, employers have seen workplace productivity increase by 11%. Even more impressive is a 2015 study from the Harvard School of Public Health showing that people working in well-ventilated offices with low levels of pollutants have double the cognitive function of those in offices with average levels of exactly the same pollutants.
In every workplace environment, comfort requirements vary. From temperature, humidity, and air movement to gender and metabolic rates, these are considered to be important factors to consider when assessing comfort requirements. Thermal discomfort in the workplace is always near the top of office complaints. The problem stems from the fact that everyone has different temperature preferences, and just a few degrees too hot or too cold can distract individual employees and significantly decrease their performance. Too often, poor indoor air quality and uncomfortable temperatures go uncorrected because they are not monitored or controlled.
An investment in clean, comfortable air will pay off in the future
This essentially sums up why monitoring our air quality is important. It is an investment for our future. Start by installing low-cost devices to monitor the indoor air, and plan to incorporate future technologies as they become available. Awareness to how your building is performing is vital and an investment in health now, will pay ongoing dividends in productivity and overall benefits in health and well-being be it at home or the workplace.
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