Improve Your Office Indoor Air Quality!

Do you work in office building? Chances are that you do, and chances are that you suffer from poor indoor air quality. With allergens, pollen and mold spores making their way into your office building, it is important to learn the easy ways you can improve the air that you breathe for most of the day.

Indoor air quality has a significant effect on your ability to breathe clearly at work. Poor indoor air quality can increase your risk of illness and lead to serious health problems. Fixing and maintaining good office indoor air quality involves many factors, including, “Maintaining good indoor air quality requires attention to the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system;” as the EPA outlined, it also includes, “the design and layout of the space; and pollutant source management.” (EPA.gov). Here are easy steps you and your office can take, to improve your office air quality:

1)      Do not block air vents: Make sure that your HVAC systems vents are clear from boxes or other materials to ensure that you are getting clean, filtered air throughout the entire office

2)      Be aware of furniture spacing: If possible, keep copiers, fax machines, desks and other office equipment away from the HVAC system.  This can restrict air flow and can also cause the HVAC to release too much cool air.

3)      Purchase air purifiers: If you did not take part in the planning of your building, chances are that there is not adequate ventilation in all areas. This will cause unpleasant smells in the air, which contributes to a poor indoor air quality. An air purifier will remove odors, particles, smoke, smog, and other contaminants from the air you and your coworkers breathe all day.

4)      Clean up water spills ASAP: spilled water and wet areas can lead to the growth of mold, mildew and other bacterial spores. This will get into the air that breathe and can cause health problems. If your office feels particularly “damp”, consider using a dehumidifier.

5)      Change filters regularly: If management doesn’t do so already, let them know the importance of changing air filters every 3 to 6 months. For ease, you can purchase a convenient 6 pack of air filters in whatever size you need that will last you the entire year!

With this fall promising to be one of the worst for allergies, it is important to do your best to create a healthy work environment. The 5 simple steps outlined above will keep your office air as clean as possible. This will prevent you from developing respiratory problems and help keep your allergies at bay.

Charity Tuesday- The Fresh Air Fund

With fall just around the corner, I wanted to focus on a FRESH AIR charity for this Charity Tuesday. There is really nothing better than stepping out onto your front porch to breathe in the cool, clean, crisp air of fall. As the leaves begin to turn into beautiful reds, oranges and yellows, I would like to feature The Fresh Air Fund as Filter’s Fast Charity Tuesday pick. With many charities focused on providing fresh water to people around the world, it is refreshing to see a charity that understands the importance of fresh air. In particular, the Fresh Air Fund in New York City has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1 million inner city children since it began in 1877.

The Fresh Air Fund provides two different avenues for inner-city children to experience the country. For many children, this is their first time under America’s starry sky without the interruption of harsh city lights. Fresh Air Fund camps host 3,000 children between the ages of eight to 15 yearly. These camps are split up by age, special needs, and gender, allowing parents to choose the most suitable camp for their child. Many children who have never been outside of the city are able to experience swimming, milking a cow, cabin living and fishing among many other activities. There are also year-round day and weekend camping trips available.

The Fresh Air Fund also provides 5,000 children with the opportunity to spend two or more weeks with a host family in 13 Northeastern states through their Friendly Town Program.  Here, children from disadvantaged New York City communities have the opportunity to live in a small rural/suburban community.  Being a host family for the Fresh Air Family means that you are providing a child with the opportunity to experience life outside of the city and it is rewarding for both you and the child you are hosting!

The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that is able to provide these great opportunities due to peoples generous donations. It is easy to make a tax-deductible donation in any amount on their secure website. If you understand the importance of clean fresh air, and outdoor activities for children, then The Fresh Air Fund is the charity for you.

 

*Speaking of fresh air, the Fall can bring unwanted air contaminants into your home, decreasing your homes indoor air quality. If you are concerned about the air quality inside your home, an air filter or air purifier will help significantly!

Is Your Indoor Air Affecting Your Allergies?

Staying indoors during allergy season may seem like a good strategy when you have allergies, but indoor air can be just as irritating to allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website, “dust mites, animal dander and even cockroaches can cause problems indoors.”

Dust mites are a chief culprit for allergy sufferers, affecting up to 8 out of 10 Americans. The best way to control dust mites is to minimize their effect  by keeping all surfaces in the home clean, and by minimizing clutter. The AAFA recommends eliminating carpet altogether, or at a bare minimum to use only washable throw rugs or a low-piled carpet. The AAFA goes on to say that:

The single most important method is to put zippered allergen impermeable or plastic covers on all pillows, mattresses and box springs. Encasing mattresses works better than air cleaners to reduce allergy symptoms. Every week, wash bedding, uncovered pillows and stuffed toys in hot water (130 degree F.) to kill mites.

Animal dander is another culprit, impacting up to 6 out 10 people in the U.S. Doctors recommend not having pets if you are allergic to pet dander. If you must have a pet, first take a break from the animal, either by vacation, or keeping the pet out of the house for at least two months, since pet dander can linger in homes that long. The AAFA recommends slowly introducing the pet back into the home, and seeing if symptoms are attributable to the pet. If so, they advise carefully considering if the pet is worth the discomfort. They also recommend keeping the pet out of your bedroom, and perhaps choosing a pet without fur or feathers.

By vacuuming once or twice a week using a HEPA filter or double-bagged vacuum, some allergens can be controlled. Also cleaning dust with a damp cloth is another good method for keeping irritating particles at a minimum in the home.

Keeping moisture out of the home wherever possible can help control mold, which is another offending allergen. Also keeping only a few house plants and using a dehumidifier will help as well.

Cockroach debris is another culprit that reduces indoor air quality. Following recommended methods for controlling cockroaches can limit the effects of their debris.

Finally, running air conditioning in warm weather, recycling the indoor air, goes a long way to control outside allergens from entering the home. Window unit filters should be changed often. Also, air purifiers and cleaners can help to keep allergens at a minimum.