I received notice of the upcoming Maine Indoor Air Quality Conference here in Maine and it reminds me of the importance of indoor air quality and the obvious ramifications the air we breathe at work has on our health.
Offices, factories and similar indoor workplaces typically have some type of air handling equipment. Its basic purpose is to provide clean air at a comfortable temperature. Some are very complex while others are simple mechanical ventilation. However, problems can arise when these systems are altered.
In this economic time, building owners may try to conserve energy by reducing the amount of fresh air added into the building. By recirculating more air, less energy is needed to heat or cool. It also increases the amount of carbon dioxide and other contaminants.
Employees will begin to develop dry, itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, and headaches. These symptoms occur when carbon dioxide levels reach 800 to 1,000 parts per million. Even though this is well below the OSHA permissible exposure limit of 5,000 parts per million, the symptoms and discomfort are very real.
Preventive maintenance of HVAC systems is critical in minimizing indoor air quality issues at any time. If you can, check out the conference. It’s a great opportunity to learn how you can plan and prepare to create a safe, healthy efficient work environment instead.