Why Do Canadian Buildings and Offices Need High-Efficiency Air Filters?
Learn about the consequences of polluted indoor air in office buildings, and how to improve indoor air quality. Report by Camfil Canada
Although 53% of Canadians believe that indoor air is as polluted as outdoor air, it can actually be as much as fifty times more polluted than outdoor air. Considering we spend as much as ninety percent of our time indoors, with many individuals spending sixty hours or more in our offices per week, the quality of the air we breathe is concerning.
Over the last few years, awareness of the dangers of outdoor and indoor air pollution has gradually risen. Recently more than ever, the public has become much more conscientious of the air they breathe due to the risk of respiratory virus transmission. Poor indoor air quality can affect the health, comfort, and productivity of office workers in buildings with poor air quality.
What Materials Are Considered Workplace Pollutants?
Some seemingly harmless workplace materials can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Outdoor sources. Buildings located in close proximity to busy urban areas or high-traffic roads are particularly prone to poor indoor air quality. In poorly ventilated buildings, outdoor sources of pollution can become trapped once they enter. Usually, outdoor sources of pollution, such as car exhaust fumes, enter through doors, windows, and on people’s clothes.
Building inhabitants. Furthermore, the people who work in an office building can bring pollen, pet dander, dust, and other particulate matter inside on their clothing. Human skin cells are also a large contributor to the buildup of dust, with the average person dropping approximately 40,000 skin cells every single minute. Respiration also adds moisture to the air, and respiratory droplets can carry dangerous pathogens, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Cleaning chemicals and air fresheners. Particularly with the increased frequency of cleaning and sanitation procedures to protect clients, employees, and visitors from the threat of COVID-19 infection, cleaning chemicals that are allowed to gather in the air can be a major contributor to poor indoor air quality. Air fresheners can also linger in the air and worsen indoor air quality without proper ventilation. If you find that you are using large amounts of air freshener due to persistent unpleasant odors, this may be a sign that your building’s ventilation is inadequate.
Furniture and furnishings. New furniture, particularly cheap, mass-manufactured furniture, is one of the most common sources of volatile organic compound (VOC) off-gassing, emitting compounds such as formaldehyde into the indoor environment. Printers and copier machines also emit large quantities of VOCs due to the amount of ink they use.
What Are the Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
A multitude of negative health outcomes are associated with long-term exposure to polluted air. But short-term exposure to workplace pollutants can lead to unpleasant symptoms, which are sometimes referred to as sick building syndrome. These symptoms, which are a good indicator that you need to improve your building’s indoor air quality can include:
Sneezing, coughing, congestion, or persistent cold symptoms with no identifiable cause
Headaches or migraines - sudden onset migraines or headaches may be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning, which should be treated as an emergency.
Worsened symptoms of seasonal allergies and asthma
Decreased productivity or motivation
Unexplained or unusual irritability, mood swings, or moodiness
What Is the Difference Between Sick Building Syndrome and Building-Related Illness?
The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines sick building syndrome as when “building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building.” Sick building syndrome involves symptoms such as an itchy throat, nose, and eyes, coughing and sneezing, headaches, and dizziness.
Building-related illness, on the other hand, refers to a specific, diagnosable illness that can be linked to a particular building or room. An example of a building-related illness is Legionnaires disease.
Combating Poor Indoor Air Quality in Commercial Office Buildings with High-Efficiency Air Filtration
Facilities managers can improve indoor air quality in office buildings by installing commercial high-efficiency air filters that target more than one type of pollutant:
Particulate matter (PM). Particulate matter refers to any particles of solid or liquid material that are small and light enough to be carried by the air stream. While the human body has robust defenses against visible PM (such as dust), smaller particulate matter is responsible for serious threats to human health. Camfil’s Hi-Flo ES air filter effectively targets these particles, and can last longer than a year without a prefilter.
Chemical pollutants. Chemical pollutants, or gaseous pollutants, include VOCs and other emissions from furniture and cleaning products, as well as solvents, paints, and finishes, which are common in new and refurbished buildings.
Biological contaminants. Although biological contaminants are more common in healthcare facilities, they are present anywhere that groups of people gather. Many biological contaminants, including the virus that causes COVID-19, are carried and spread through respiratory droplets (similar to particulate transmission), Commercial buildings frequently do not have HVAC systems with the capacity to house hospital-grade air filters within the air handling unit. Alternatively, air filtration experts recommend an in-room air purifier such as Camfil’s City M, which functions independently of the building’s HVAC system to deliver HEPA-filtration.
Be sure to contact an experienced commercial building air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 31 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 35+ countries, and about 5,200 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at https://www.camfil.com/en-ca/
Camfil Canada Air Filters
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