Home working and indoor air quality have become growing topics of discussion amongst companies in recent years with both employers and employees becoming increasingly aware of the impact that poor air quality within their working environments has on their happiness, health and productivity. A survey undertaken by the Remark Group found that 57% of UK office staff think that indoor air quality is impacting their mental and physical health and approximately 80% believe it is affecting their productivity. Consequently, today’s places of work are continually implementing innovative solutions in order to provide safe and optimum environments for their personnel as well as adhere to regulatory standards.
Home Working and Indoor Air Quality
The recent health crisis of COVID-19 has meant that the majority of the UK office workforce has shifted to a home-based setting in order to fulfil their professional duties. Whilst this change may offer numerous benefits in the form of reduced commute times and flexible working arrangements, unlike our all too familiar office spaces, these environments are not equipped with advanced ventilation systems and progressive solutions to ensure effective dispersion of indoor pollutants. Therefore, it is critical that employees working from home are made aware of the health implications that may arise from potential increased exposure to indoor contaminants as a result of this recent adjustment and are provided with practical strategies to reduce them.
Our home environments are filled with appliances and materials that can emit contaminants harmful to our health. These can include carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from cooking and heating appliances, open fires and garage vehicles; particulate matter from candle burning, fan heaters and cooking activities; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from air fresheners, cleaning products and home furnishings; and, dust and moulds from animal dander and poorly ventilated rooms.
Exposure to these pollutants are associated with a number of health effects which include nausea, fatigue, skin reactions and eye irritation in the short-term, to significantly more harmful long-term issues such as memory impairment, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer. At serious risk from these problems are those who are already susceptible to poor air quality such as those who experience chronic respiratory and heart issues.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
Given that we spend over 90% of our time indoors, which can only be seen to increase with new lockdown measures coming into force in the UK today, it is vital that we implement effective strategies within our new home working environments to minimise the hazard of contaminants where possible and maximise our health and safety.
Measures to improve indoor air quality within office environments often involve utilisation of expensive mechanical ventilation or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. However, adopting the following simple strategies can lead to a rapid improvement of pollution levels within your home-based work space:
- Opening windows to naturally ventilate your property;
- Opting for an electrified alternative to gas cooking and heating systems;
- Avoid open fires and wood burning stoves;
- Use soy or beeswax-based candles;
- Switch to low-chemical or natural cleaning products;
- Keep your home warm, dry and well aired to avoid damp and mould; and,
- Adopt regular cleaning to avoid build up of dust and mould.
How Can We Help?
Redmore Environmental has specialist knowledge of indoor air pollution impacts, with our air quality consultants having undertaken a vast number of indoor air quality monitoring projects to assess pollutant concentrations within a range of environments. If you are concerned that indoor air quality is affecting your or your employee’s health, then please get in touch with us today to discuss your needs.