Commercial Building Owners Risk Lowered Employee Productivity, Frequent Illness
It’s not just in your head, or it could be. Headaches along with congestion, coughing, itchy noses, red eyes, or even just plain fatigue and feeling “blah” are common symptoms associated with the all-too-common “sick building syndrome” found in many of today’s commercial buildings. Recognized as a legitimate medical issue by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, this kind of indoor environment can result in even more serious health consequences over time.
That Office Carpet May Look Swell, But It Might Be Making You Sick
The problem started as an answer to the energy crisis of the 1970s. Many building owners and architects sought to make buildings more energy efficient, fast. Weather stripping, heavy insulation, and even triple paned windows became the norm. Few of these buildings allowed for proper ventilation, as an open window meant lost energy and wasted money. “Airtight” became synonymous with “cost-effective.”
In addition, many office textiles introduced in the 1970s and more recently, while inexpensive and stylish, also present significant offgassing issues. Plastics, formaldehydes, and even carpet fibers can be extremely toxic, especially when used in a poorly ventilated office building where fresh air often seems forbidden. Add in the lingering vapors of spray cleaners and floor waxes, and the result is an invisible chemical cloud enveloping all of a building’s occupants, with real-time physical consequences.
There are several ways to assess whether your building needs help. Do you have multiple building occupants suffering from similar reported symptoms, with most of these problems rapidly dissipating when they are away from the affected location? Do symptoms or even overall absenteeism align with seasonal use of your HVAC heating or air conditioning? If so, you could have a serious problem with indoor air quality.
Solutions Start Here
Maintenance and regular inspections of your building and your existing HVAC equipment are a critical part of keeping your systems healthy. Water-damaged walls or tiles should be replaced immediately, and any chemical paints and solvents must be stored properly. Evaluate whether your building is up to current codes, meeting appropriate standards for air change rates and ventilation.
With recent breakthroughs in HVAC technology, the solutions to sick building syndrome also mean effective cleaning and purification of the air indoors. Newer air cleaners, including photocatalytic air purifiers, use UV light to remove viruses, bacteria and even the organic compounds that lead to the production of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals.
Unlike air filters, which simply block pollutants and keep them trapped within their fibers, these newer air purifiers actually destroy potentially dangerous irritants by transforming them into other substances. Mold, pollen, bacteria and other microbial nightmares are thus rendered harmless.
Improve the health of your building and its occupants with clean, energy efficient HVAC equipment and air purifying systems. New technologies are now available, and changes to the federal tax code make these options more cost effective than ever.
Is your building sick? Call Air-Tro to discuss safer HVAC and air cleaning systems now available. (626) 357-3535