Testing the quality of indoor air is particularly important in promoting occupational health and safety in a built environment. The quality of air within the building will not only affect the comfort of the occupants, will but also affect their health and safety. As such, it is important for the employer to monitor the indoor air quality and make relevant changes to ensure that the air quality is up to the set standards. Testing the quality of air is essential, even after the ventilation has been evaluated to ensure that the safety and health of occupants. This paper uses the indoor air quality case study presented to respond to various guiding questions
Conclusions that Can or Cannot Be Drawn From These Findings
In this case, the ventilation system was not evaluated. Therefore, the readings only indicate the current quality of air in the office, but it cannot inform any effective strategies aimed at addressing the problem. Without establishing whether the ventilation system is working optimally, it will be difficult for the organization to establish any relevant adjustments that are required in the building. In this situation, it is likely that the readings taken are as a result of poor ventilation or that the ventilation system is not working at all. It is often difficult to ensure that the building is within the right range in terms of air quality if the ventilation is not working. This is why any readings obtained without knowing the status of the ventilation system may not be in any way effective in improving the quality of indoor air.
What the Readings Mean In Relation To Potential Worker Health And/ Or Productivity
Concerning the readings however, it is important to note that there are some safety hazards here. The employees in this office are relatively at risk owing to the quality of the air in the office. The safety limit for carbon dioxide in indoor air is 5000 ppm. In this office, the readings indicate a level of 1200 to 1300 ppm meaning that the carbon dioxide is well within a safe range. Readings above 5000 ppm are known to cause mental acuity among other symptoms in the affected individuals. Here, the range is way below the safety limits. Carbon dioxide is however not the only problem when it comes to indoor air quality. Relative humidity here is at a range of 62 – 78%. The safety guidelines require between 30 and 60% relative humidity within the office building. This is particularly because higher humidity will encourage microbial growth and thus put the employees at risk.
The formaldehyde readings here also indicate a level of 0.05 ppm. Formaldehyde is a considerably toxic substance that is associated with some cases of lung and nasal cancer. A consistent exposure of more than 0.08 ppm is known to result in irritations in the respiratory tract. Here however, the formaldehyde is within the safety limits although a target level is 0.03 ppm. The building may thus need some adjustments in order to ensure that the formaldehyde level is reduced significantly.
There are not any specific limits to the measurement of spores within an indoor environment except for cases where the results are cumulative. It is however evident that there are mold spores in this building and while the numbers seem low, it is critical that the building is thoroughly checked for any sources of the mold and thus cleaned out before it becomes a health hazard. Other than causing respiratory problems, mold also makes people generally uncomfortable when exposed for long. Moreover, with the flu like symptoms, it is likely to greatly affect the company’s productivity especially seeing, as the employees will be falling sick regularly. Monitoring the level of mold spores on the inside and the outside helps to understand whether the mold is in the building or is coming from outside. If the fluctuations are simultaneous then there is a need to look into the building’s ventilation system.
Do Any Of These Exposures Exceed Regulatory Exposure Limits?
The level of relative humidity is much higher than the recommended limits for safety. The other readings are however well within the acceptable range based on OHS guidelines for IAQ in commercial buildings.
Are There Other Guidelines That Should Be Considered?
The OHS guidelines are the first line of regulation within commercial buildings. However, the business owner may also look into the WHO guidelines as they also offer a great insight into indoor air quality and safety for commercial buildings.
When it comes to indoor air quality, the best investigations are often done through visual and sensory inspections. This means that rather than rushing into an IAQ test, it is important to walk around the building and look for possible causes of pollution. This implies looking at the ventilation system to ensure that it is working, looking at the furniture and upholstery to ensure that it is generally clean and ensuring that the building is up to regulatory standards in terms of building materials and space. Crowded spaces are also an issue when it comes to indoor air quality.
This building’s readings indicate a problem with the quality of air, meaning that the employees are being exposed to a number of health hazards that are likely to affect their productivity within the company. In this case, however, it will be difficult to come up with credible solutions considering that the ventilation system is yet to be evaluated. A good strategy here would thus be for the business owner to contact the building manager and have the building inspected with respect to its safety and ventilation as well. Depending on the outcomes obtained here, it will be prudent for the business owner to ensure that the building is in an incredible condition to improve indoor air quality and afford the employees all the comfort and safety that they require. It was particularly noted that this building has some very high levels of relative humidity and this has to be addressed by further inspecting the building for any possible sources of dampness.