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5 alarming truths about indoor air quality in the workplace

05/25/23 3 min reading time HealthCleanliness

Indoor air quality is often much worse than outdoor air. Numerous studies have revealed this fact. We will uncover the reasons behind polluted indoor air.

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Air quality: Hooray outside, boo indoors?

Someone asks you if indoor air quality is better than outdoor air quality in cities. What would you answer? Probably a spontaneous "Yes!", right? If so, you're not alone.

By the way, we would have also answered "yes" if we weren't already so deeply involved in the topic. After all, out there, there's all the traffic, industrial plants, and other sources responsible for unpleasant emissions.

However, scientific studies consistently show that the air quality in workplaces is often much worse than the outdoor air, even when we can't see the supposed pollution. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution claims the lives of seven million people every year, and nine out of ten people breathe air with high levels of pollutants.

For us, this is reason enough to present you with 5 alarming facts about polluted indoor air that you should definitely be aware of, especially for the well-being of your employees.

5 facts about indoor air quality at the workplace that you need to know

1. Indoor air is often worse than outdoor air

We've already primed you for this first fact. Scientific studies have proven that indoor air quality, even in heavily industrialized areas, can be worse than outdoor air due to various pollutants!

On "Clean Air Day," a study found that indoor air pollution is, on average, 3.5 times higher than outdoor air pollution. Considering we spend around 90 % of our lifetime indoors, this fact should not be overlooked.

2. Polluted indoor air: One of the greatest health risks

It may sound unbelievable, but it's true: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air pollution ranks among the top five environmental risks to public health. In other words, we can never be certain of "breathing freely" in the workplace.

Dust, mold, chemicals, and other unwanted particles pose a significant threat to our health day after day.

3. Sneaky dust: Present even when invisible

Dust and other harmful particles exist everywhere in the air. Sometimes, they are invisible to our eyes, making them more difficult to combat and even more dangerous. These particles quietly float in the air, settling on floors, machinery, and equipment. Even the slightest air movement can stir up these "resting particles," causing us to breathe them in again. In the long run, polluted indoor air becomes a genuine health hazard.

4. Detrimental to our health

Poor indoor air quality can lead to various health problems. We're not just talking about headaches, asthma, flu-like symptoms, or irritated throats, which only affect employees' productivity. Fine particles can enter our bloodstream, clogging arteries and increasing the risk of heart attacks. Polluted indoor air can even cause cancer.

5. Indoor air is less regulated

While outdoor air quality is subject to strict regulations, the same cannot be said for indoor air quality in the workplace. Even if you comply with legal limits, the air in your workplace may not be conducive to your business or your employees. In other words, when it comes to indoor air, everyone is responsible for themselves. Unless we have hygiene regulations to meet (such as in sensitive industries like food production or pharmaceuticals), average operations often fall short in terms of indoor air quality. The greatest danger lies in the gradual deterioration of indoor air quality. The same gradual process applies to the decline in your teams' health conditions as well.

What does this mean for the indoor air quality in your company?

"Oh no, is my business affected too?" – Maybe this thought crossed your mind. Let's start with the not-so-good news: Yes, there's a relatively high chance that your employees are also exposed to indoor air pollution. But fret not! There are numerous ways to combat polluted indoor air effectively.

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