The air quality of the indoor environment such as a non-industrial office environment can significantly affect the health, comfort, and productivity of building occupants.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) in the workplace, such an office environment, is the subject of much attention recently, and for good reason. Although serious irreversible health problems related to IAQ in non-industrial office environments are rare, the perception of endangered health is increasingly common among building occupants.
To date, the causes and consequences of poor IAQ are complex and not completely understood, but there are some basic factors that in many cases address IAQ concerns.
IAQ is a problem when the air contains dust and objectionable odours, chemical contaminants, dampness, mould or bacteria.
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a number of physical symptoms and complaints. The most common of these include:
Thermal discomfort: too hot or too cold
Shortness of breath (eg. insufficient oxygen related to high carbon dioxide levels)
Eye, nose, and throat irritation
These physical symptoms and complaints are often attributed to indoor air quality, however, it is important to note that indoor air quality is not always the cause. Other factors in the indoor environment such as noise, overcrowding, improper lighting, poor ergonomic conditions, and job stress can also lead to these symptoms and complaints. In many situations, a combination of factors is to blame.
An increased likelihood of complaints is usually associated with factors such as the installation of new furnishings, uncontrolled renovation activities, poor air circulation and air flow, persistent moisture and ongoing low relative humidity. Complaints may also increase when there is a stressful work environment, such as impending layoffs, a great deal of overtime, or an ongoing conflict among staff members and management.
A number of factors can affect the indoor air quality of a building or facility, including:
The physical layout of the building
The building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system
The people who occupy the building