Breathing clean, pure air at work should be a right, not a privilege. And yet, indoor air quality (IAQ) issues continue to challenge business owners year after year. 2018 has been no different. Regardless of the type of business, four key categories of indoor air pollution prove the most problematic: molds, fumes, dust, and VOCs.
It would be easy for people who have not yet seen the destructive impact of mold to dismiss it as a top IAQ concern. But mold and mildew grow almost everywhere – indoors and out. In the workplace, mildew can contaminate records and documents; in museums, it can attack paintings and priceless artifacts. 1Wherever conditions are favorable, mold can breed, destroy resources, and cause allergic distress in both humans and animals.
Workplace fumes are produced in virtually every industry. Copy machines, printers, lab equipment and surgical tools create gases that can occasionally prove toxic. For example, glues, paints, and inks expose workers to methyl ethyl ketone. MEK is used as a solvent, adhesive, and cleaning agent and can cause ailments ranging from respiratory problems to liver failure. Dentists, artists and lab technicians, to name only a few professions, all come into contact with MEK. 2Those who work in nail salons, on the other hand, have different chemicals to fear. Dibutyl, formaldehyde and toluene, known in the nail-care industry as “the toxic trio”, are responsible for symptoms that vary from those as minor as nausea and rash to deadly diseases such as lung cancer. 3
Workplace dust is a two-fold threat. Overexposure can cause health problems such as coughing, wheezing and even lung disease. Significant long-term health risks exist for those who work in industries such as baking or milling where inhaling airborne matter can be a daily occurrence. 4
But more insidious than prolonged exposure is the potential for dust combustion. Visible floating particles, in addition to those that are hidden or lay dormant, can potentially explode. And one small blast can incite another and cause widespread damage and injury. 5
Volatile Organic Compounds are those that contain carbon (the organic part) as well as other atoms that evaporate into the air at average room temperatures (the volatile part). These compounds are found in nature as well as in various glues, solvents, and paints (such as the aforementioned MEK and formaldehyde). But others stem from chemicals like benzene, which is released from both cigarette smoke and car emissions and has the unfortunate distinction of also being cancerous. VOCs are everywhere – a threat that is not easily contained. 6
But when action is taken, there is risk reduction. Molds, fumes, dust and VOCs can be minimized or even eliminated with the right safety plan, one that includes the proper air cleaning products and equipment.
At Air Systems Inc., we follow IAQ hot topics and use our blog and social media outlets to inform you of environmental trends as well as air purification news you might otherwise overlook. As we enter a new year, we will continue cleaning the air you breathe, just as we have been doing for over three decades.
For superior air cleaning systems and products, please contact an Air Systems Inc. specialist today for a free and thorough clean air analysis.