Indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential to the health and safety of employees and occupants in any space. Those spaces could be businesses, commercial buildings, or schools. According to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, where some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor concentrations. Those pollutants put occupants at risk, and the only way to lower that risk is to test and treat the indoor air comprehensively. Poor IAQ can lead to health issues, including headaches, fatigue, sore eyes, flu-like symptoms, and even heart disease or cancer in severe cases.
By testing indoor air quality, businesses can understand what pollutants their employees are exposed to. And by working with an experienced partner like SITEX, companies can take adequate measures to improve indoor air quality. Our team of professionals provides comprehensive environmental services, including IAQ surveys and management, and they follow best practices to help businesses ensure a high IAQ. Let’s look at a few ways to improve IAQ and provide safe environments for occupants.
What Leads to a Poor IAQ
There are several reasons a building can have poor indoor air quality, but often the cause relates to pollutants in HVAC systems. Contaminants like gases, mold, bacteria, and organic chemicals can gather in the air and cause adverse health effects. These pollutants can come from building maintenance, pest control, different kinds of work, or even activities like smoking.
While any one of these events can lead to poor IAQ, it’s also possible that a combination of events is to blame. And when it comes to some of these contaminants, there may not be an odor to let occupants know that something is wrong. That’s why our technicians always recommend IAQ testing to understand what the root cause is.
The First Step is to Test Indoor Air Quality
Before making an IAQ plan, testing must happen. IAQ testing covers a wide range of pollutants, including asthma irritants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and radon. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA sets limits on air pollution and emissions of air pollutants, but they do not regulate indoor air quality.
The only guaranteed way to understand what is in your business’s air is to have it tested by certified professionals. Tests can be done at any location, and technicians will conduct thorough testing with the following steps to take to meet recommended IAQ standards. Upon completing the test, technicians can create a custom plan with the right solutions for your business to improve the IAQ.
What Businesses Can Do Today
Improving IAQ requires trained technicians and the right solutions, but there are still things any business can do today to improve its indoor air quality. Daily vacuuming and dusting helps to control large particles and will help to keep the IAQ in check. However, that kind of cleaning doesn’t remove smaller particles that often cause the most irritation. Our technicians recommend using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to remove tiny particles like dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria.
If a business works with paints, varnishes, or finishes, choosing ones with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will help to keep them out of the air altogether. The same goes for cleaning products, insecticides, and artificial candles that are often laden with chemicals that can create poor IAQ. Finally, businesses can control their humidity levels depending on the size of their space, as high humidity levels lead to mold and other contaminants. However, if a company is looking to remedy their IAQ fully, there are experts ready to assist them.
Source Control to Improve IAQ
The most effective way to improve IAQ is to understand the source of the contamination and eliminate it. Toxic areas that can be identified through IAQ testing are sealed, enclosed, or treated to remove contaminants and ultimately raise the IAQ. If the contamination is coming from an appliance like a gas stove, the equipment is adjusted to decrease emissions. Source control best practices also include maintaining HVAC filtration to dilute indoor air contaminants with a regular flow of fresh air.
During the investigation process, technicians may also find high levels of radon or mold. Technicians will also look into air filters and ducts, as both need to be cleaned and changed regularly. Best practices suggest that air filters should be replaced every two to three months to keep a space’s IAQ at a preferred level.
Every Space’s IAQ is Different
The size and occupancy of a space will play a role in its IAQ just as much as the kind of work done inside it. Businesses that aren’t sure about their IAQ can use consumer-grade tests for things like radon, VOCs, and mold to see if any of those contaminants exist in their space. From there, they can reach out to an experienced provider like SITEX for more comprehensive testing and remediation planning.
SITEX has a history of helping companies of all sizes with their EH&S needs, including IAQ Surveys and Management, Mold and Moisture Inspections and Management, Radon Testing, and more. SITEX technicians work with clients to provide custom IAQ solutions for their unique needs, ensuring occupants and employees are safe from pollutants with the cleanest air possible.