Indoor Air Quality Concerns with In-Office Document Shredding

Indoor Air Quality Concerns with In-Office Document Shredding 1

In the age of cyber threats and massive security violations, business owners and corporations must manage their clients’ and customers’ paper records with the utmost care. Client records often contain confidential or sensitive data so must be disposed of by permanent means. Burning, pulping, and shredding are the most popular methods but shredding, by far, is the optimal choice in terms of efficiency and environmental safety.

The first document shredder was manufactured in 1935 by Adolf Ehinger, a German citizen who worried that his anti-Nazi propaganda could cause problems with the German authorities. (1) Ehinger based his original model on the hand-cranked dough slicer his wife used to make their pastas and piecrusts. His shredder was revolutionary. But until the mid-1980s, it was rare for any non-government agency or financial institution to dispose of sensitive paperwork in this manner.

It is difficult to imagine any modern-day office without a shredder or a document destruction company under contract. Protecting the privacy of client and company alike, all while removing the risk of a data breach, is more important than ever. Such concerns have been the driving force behind in-office elimination of sensitive paper material. And while shredding is the kindest form of paper destruction – in so far as environmental matters are concerned – shredding is not without occupational risk and indoor air quality issues. All forms of document destruction have the potential to pollute the air and cause health problems for workers.

During the shredding process, paper is cut and cross cut, a process which releases fine dusts, also known as particulate matter (PM). (2) These airborne particles, if inhaled, have the potential to cause serious health complications. Long interested in the effects of particulate matter, the EPA defined it as, “a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are found in the air.” PM exists both indoors and out, but the type that the EPA deems the biggest threat is fine particulate matter as it can be inhaled deep into the lungs. (3) Underscoring the EPAs position, the Department of Health and Human Services noted that studies have proven that exposure to fine dust particles can cause, or worsen, respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis, lung function, and some forms of cancer. Of these illnesses, asthma has become the most prevalent, with over 5,000 asthma-related deaths reported each year. (4)
Not coincidentally, the National Institutes of Health published the results of a cross-sectional study of papermill office workers highlighting the respiratory health of 13 nonsmoking men with heavy exposure to worksite paper dusts compared with 14 men with no occupational exposure. The ultimate findings suggested that those exposed to the fine particulate matter had significant pulmonary function impairment as compared to those who worked in an environment with a healthy indoor air quality. (5)

To improve indoor air quality, the EPA recommends three basic strategies: controlling dust at the source, improving ventilation, and using air cleaning equipment to keep business owners and workers safe. (6)

At AIR SYSTEMS Inc, we serve our customers by identifying areas of potential risk. We supply stellar products that will eliminate workplace dusts in addition to other air impurities. Call us today to schedule a free estimate with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.