Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hidden Health Hazards in Your Business

Most people are aware of the health dangers of outdoor air pollution, but don't realize that air pollution in their homes, offices, and schools also can have significant health effects. However, recent studies have shown that people are exposed to higher concentrations of air pollution for longer periods of time inside buildings than outside them. The fact is, indoor air pollutant levels may be two to five times higher, and occasionally up to one hundred times higher, than outdoors.

Indoor Air Pollutants

Indoor air pollutants come in all different forms, and many of the more hazardous environmental contaminants go unseen and unnoticed. Elements such as VOCs, formaldehyde, and even mold growing from structural leaks, can all lead to health hazards. Some common known sources of air pollution include:

Asbestos - Building materials, such as insulation containing asbestos are known to be hazardous to health. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can still be found in many older homes. Inhaling tiny asbestos fibers can increase the risk of lung cancer and other lung diseases. Pipe coverings, flooring, shingles and roofs are likely places to find asbestos.

VOCs - Paints containing VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), get released into the air as paint dries. While long term effects are still unclear, the EPA has concluded that some VOC’s are suspected carcinogens.

Formaldehyde - Furnishings, including flooring, wet or damp carpets, and cabinets or furniture made from certain processed wood products. Many products also include formaldehyde According to the EPA, formaldehyde

Structural leaks - Rain and high humidity can bring moisture indoors, creating dampness, mold and mildew. Mold aside, dampness alone is associated with higher risk of wheezing, coughing and asthma symptoms. Check your roof, foundation and basement or crawlspace once a year to catch leaks or moisture problems and route water away from the building's foundation.

Ventilation - Proper ventilation is one of the best ways to improve air quality, (provided that the outside air is not worse than indoor air). High levels of moisture in your home increase dampness and the growth of mold, which not only damage your home but threaten health. Dampness and mold are linked to increased wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks in people with allergies.

Flooring - Avoid using carpet whenever possible. Carpet traps unhealthy particles -- including chemicals, dust mites, pet dander, dirt and fungi - and vacuuming can make them airborne. If you do have carpets, use a HEPA (high efficiency particle air) vacuum cleaner to ensure better air quality. Hard surface flooring, like wood, tile or cork can be readily cleaned by damp mopping.

The Solution

Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate pollution sources or reduce their emissions. Some sources, such as those containing asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed. Other sources, like gas stoves and furnaces, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. Banning smoking near exits and substituting less toxic cleaning supplies, art materials, and paints also can reduce indoor air pollution.

Improving ventilation is another approach to lowering concentrations of indoor air pollutants. Fans that exhaust to the outdoors can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, laboratories, copy and print rooms, and cleaning-supply storage rooms. Some buildings need additional outdoor air brought in by way of fans, open windows, or improved ventilation systems.

Air purifiers also can improve indoor air quality. Furnaces and portable air cleaners can filter particles out of the air in homes. Gaseous contaminants can be removed by more sophisticated filtering. Air purifiers vary in their ability and range, with commercial air cleaners covering an expanse of 1000 feet and removing biological contaminants. For compact office settings, there are room air filters can be equally as powerful for smaller settings, such as 400 sq. feet, and can come equipped with both HEPA and carbon filters

In the long term, people exposed to indoor air pollution may develop cancer, respiratory diseases, or heart disease. For this reason, it becomes all the more critical to do everything in your ability to safeguard your health and the longevity of your employees. It is also a common known fact that healthier employees are more productive. As such, an investment in the air quality of your employees is an investment in your business.

By: Air Purifier Home

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