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Blogs and News

31st Jan 2019

How To Avoid Indoor Air Pollution In Your Workplace

A short guide to how to improve your company's air


Indoor pollution in the office or other workplace is a problem, which causes illness and sometimes more serious outcomes. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, and this short guide will outline some areas for managers to understand how to mitigate this issue.

Indoor Air Quality – Important Factors to Note

Air quality indoors is not a static thing – it depends on location factors, for example proximity to major roads, but also the season, temperature, how many people are there, what processes are involved – for example an office might have photocopiers and printers, a canteen cooking fumes, while a laboratory will have other potential pollutants.

The three main ways of dealing with pollutants:

1. First, manage the sources of pollutants either by removing them from the building or isolating them from people through physical barriers, air pressure differences, or by controlling the timing of their utilisation.

2. Dilute pollutants and remove them from the building through good ventilation.

3. Use filters to scrub the air of pollution.

Sources of Pollutants

Generators of chemical pollution include emissions from products used in the building such as office equipment, furniture, wall and floor coverings and cleaning and consumer products. There can be the accidental spill of chemicals. Unhealthy gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are mainly produced by vehicles can infiltrate the building.

Biological hazards: Excessive concentrations of bacteria, viruses, fungi (including moulds), dust mite allergens, animal dander and pollen may result from inadequate maintenance, vermin control and housekeeping, water spills, inadequate humidity control, condensation, or may be brought into the building by occupants, infiltration, or ventilation air. Allergic responses to indoor biological pollutant exposures cause symptoms in allergic individuals and also play a key role in triggering asthma episodes for an estimated 5.4 million people in the UK.

Particles: solid or liquid substances which are light enough to be suspended in the air, the largest of which may be visible in sunlight streaming into an office. However, smaller particles that are invisible are likely to be more harmful to health. Particles of dust, dirt, or other substances may be taken into the building from outside and can also be produced by activities that occur in premises, like sanding wood or other substances, printing, copying, operating equipment and machinery.

Improving air quality

Managers will need to control moisture and humidity, to stop moulds and fungi developing and issuing spores, maintaining good heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, including filtration to prevent outdoor pollution – for example from traffic – penetrating into the workplace. Even office plants, which normally add a touch of homeliness to any working space, can be the source of bacteria and moulds so should be cared for appropriately.

Overall, it does not take much effort or outlay to ensure that the air quality in a workplace is of a superior quality, and this will have benefits that can be seen in happier and healthier staff.


Julian Jackson is Wandsworth Chamber’s blogger, whose interests encompass technology, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here: