Improving Your Building’s Indoor Air Quality During Allergy Season
The shift of the seasons from summer to fall and fall to winter brings with it more than just temperature changes. It also means more allergens are in the air as another allergy season kicks in. In a commercial setting, allergies can diminish employee effectiveness and efficiency, cause discomfort among your customers, and reduce overall comfort throughout your building. Here is a brief introduction to indoor air quality along with suggestions about what you can do to improve the indoor air quality in your building this allergy season.
Sources of Indoor Allergens
A commercial building is susceptible to all the allergens, particulates and airborne contaminants that are common in residential settings. Depending on the type of business, additional allergens can be introduced into the building’s indoor air. Common indoor particulates include:
- Cloth fibers
- Metal or wood particles
- Animal dander or waste
- Insect parts
- Dust mites
Fumes, gases, and odors can also affect the indoor air quality in your building. These can come from cleaning supplies, paints, solvents, exhaust gases and substances used in the business’s operations. Carpets, furniture and other objects can sometimes give off strong odors and gases. Cooking, even the reheating of food in office microwaves, can produce odors that are objectionable to some.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
- Practice source control: Prevention is the best way to maintain and improve indoor air quality in your building. Source control means removing the sources of odors and contaminants before they can cause air quality problems. Make sure the trash is taken out frequently; in most cases, daily trash removal is best. Dust desk surfaces, shelves and equipment at least once a week. Vacuum carpets daily, if possible. Establish policies for activities that could produce odors, such as smoking, wearing perfumes or cologne, or reheating food. Make sure cleaning supplies, paints, solvents and similar materials are kept in tightly-sealed containers and are stored away from main activity areas and HVAC return registers.
- Improve indoor ventilation: Ventilation helps maintain a constant circulation of air inside your commercial building. The benefit of increased ventilation comes from the fact that stale indoor air is always being removed while fresh outdoor air is always being brought in. This ensures that odors, particulates, and allergens are also being removed from the indoor environment along with the outgoing air. Larger ventilation systems are available that can provide sufficient ventilation for entire floors or the whole building. Opening windows when weather permits is a good way to improve ventilation in smaller areas.
- Have HVAC maintenance performed: Your heating and cooling systems are an important source of indoor air quality control. Well-maintained HVAC equipment works better and more efficiently and is your first line of defense against poor indoor air quality. Frequent air filter changes ensure that your HVAC systems remove significant amounts of contaminants from your indoor air.
- Install air cleaning or purification systems: Air purification systems are designed to be installed in tandem with heating and cooling equipment. The air that flows through the HVAC systems is routed through the air cleaners, where it travels through high-quality filters to remove large amounts of particulates and allergens. The cleaned air then travels on through the HVAC system. Air cleaners and purifiers typically use very effective filters. The highest quality filters, called HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, can remove almost all particulates and contaminants. They are commonly used in environments where indoor air quality is vitally important, such as medical facilities, manufacturing plants or computer rooms. Filters can have additional features, such as activated charcoal, that can remove fumes, odors and gases.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on indoor air quality in offices and commercial buildings, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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