The importance of effective ventilation in an office

Did you that air pollution isn’t limited to busy streets in towns and cities? It is becoming a bigger problem inside homes and offices, with indoor air up to 50% more polluted than outdoor air. The issue of indoor air pollution isn't limited to homes, it can also be found in the office environment.

The effect of indoor air pollution is particularly prevalent within newer buildings, as due to the improved build quality, there are fewer opportunities for pollutants to dissipate. Due to the improved insulation trapping airborne pollutants created through everyday use inside the office, the pollutants can build-up over time and, in turn, affect the health and well-being of everyone working inside.

Indoor air pollution is linked to causing and worsening existing conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Strokes
  • Allergies

However, perhaps more importantly in the workplace, it has been found that indoor air pollution has a negative effect on working practices. The most common side effects of poor indoor air quality are worsened concentration and productivity levels and increased fatigue. You must wonder how many work days have been lost through sickness as a result of poor quality air!

In a recent study conducted by BESA, over 75% of interviewed office workers felt that poor indoor air quality in their office was affecting their working practices. Over two-thirds of those interviewed said that opening a window was their most common form of ventilation. However, by opening a window, there is the risk of exposing those inside to harmful pollutants from outside such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter. These pollutants are typically created by traffic, so in many instances opening a window may not actually be an option. By opening a window there will also be an increase the amount of noise entering the workplace, further reducing the concentration levels of those working inside.

Nearly 80% of the respondents reported that they suffer from lapses in concentration on at least a monthly basis; with over 70% reporting that they suffered from fatigue at least once a month.

One of the main recommendations from the report was ensuring that there is suitable ventilation in place in the office, as this will help to swiftly and effectively remove harmful pollutants. Reducing the level of air pollution within the office will help to improve the health, well-being and productivity and concentration levels of those working within the office. This could be through simple extraction to commercial heat recovery units, so why wouldn’t you want to invest in proper ventilation for your workplace?