5 Sneaky Enemies of Every Commercial Building’s Indoor Air Quality and How to Overcome Them
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a growing concern among facility managers, and for good reason. The National Environmental Education Foundation reports that the U.S. economy loses more than $10 billion a year to poor IAQ due to issues like illness, allergies, and reduced productivity.
While some factors affecting IAQ are out of facility managers’ hands (weather or regional wildfires, for example), there are plenty of determinants they can control. Don’t overlook these factors when focusing on maintaining good indoor air quality:
- Subtle water damage: Major flooding can damage a building, of course, but so can smaller water-related events. Leaky plumbing or air conditioner vents, for example, could cause mold and bacteria growth.
- Repairs and remodels: When you modify a building structure, you inevitably release particles that haven’t been disturbed since the building was constructed. Plus, workers may bring outside contaminants into the indoor environment on their clothes, tools, shoes, or materials.
- Inadequate cleaning routines: Improperly maintained assets and irregular or inadequate cleanings can hurt IAQ.
- New capital investments: New furnishings or materials can impact indoor air quality by releasing volatile organic compounds, which can linger in the air and cause negative physical reactions in some occupants.
- Construction defects: Defects in buildings such as window or roof leaks or poorly designed HVAC systems can make it difficult to keep IAQ high.
Overcoming IAQ Pitfalls Systematically, Practically, and Affordably
Upon hearing all the factors that have an impact on indoor air quality, facility managers might wonder how they can make a difference. The answer is through consistent application of healthy IAQ best practices. For example:
- Take occupant complaints seriously every time. If a number of people complain about the same concern, it’s a problem (even if it’s not directly an IAQ one.)
- Insist that your in-house or outsourced janitorial teams use vacuums with HEPA filters and safe cleaning solutions.
- Ask about volatile organic compounds when purchasing upgraded materials. Lots of suppliers know the VOC levels of their products and can share scientific studies and research.
- Jump into action right away when you spot any type of moisture problem.
Facility managers should also maintain a list of partners they can call to help with improving buildings’ air quality. MilliCare, for example, strives to help FMs with their building hygiene. When we develop deep cleaning plans, schedules, and systems with our partners, we focus on getting fibers spotless and removing contaminants so that they don’t re-enter the air.
Our carpet cleaning method helps lower the risk of mold and mildew that can be an issue with hot-water extraction carpet cleaning. That’s because we utilize a proprietary dry-polymer-based cleaning procedure that’s been shown to reduce airborne pollutants by up to 99%.
At the same time, the proven three-stage entryway systems we design help stop debris and pollutants from entering buildings to start with. By keeping silica, sand, and soil outside, our entryway systems make controlling IAQ a little easier.
We’ve all become more attuned to the importance of a healthy living and working environment. FMs have the capability to make everyone feel less concerned about working in office, retail, and manufacturing spaces by overcoming common enemies to safer indoor air.