Bring a Plant to the Office for Cleaner Air? The Facts About Airborne pollutants in the office

Canadians are spoiled it seems when it comes to clean air. There is is nothing like an arctic cold front in the winter that brings clean fresh Arctic air (we have to say the good things about living in Canada eh!). In other parts of the world that we share with this is not the case. In some parts of China the pollution is so bad people are wearing air masks and they are happy to see a sunny day. This problem is very pronounced in Beijing and this is the world we share with everybody.

Did you know that the air inside of your office can contain up to 5 times more air pollution than the outdoors?

Studies show that indoor air pollutants are responsible for half of all illnesses. Cleaning the air in your office can provide the solution to these invisible problems and less sick days for your staff. Air purification is made easy with air purifiers that can safely remove 99.97% of airborne pollutants, as small as 0.3 microns using a 4 stage Purification System. As well as this there are many other ways in which you can help to reduce the amount of air pollutants in your office.

Common Pollutants In The Air:

Allergens – Almost anything can be an allergen for someone. The most common allergens are pollen, house dust mites and moulds*. An allergy to these substances can cause anything from a runny nose, itchy eyes and palate to skin rash. It aggravates the sense of smell, sight, taste and touch causing irritation.

Viruses – A cubic metre of air may contain 15,000 flu viruses.† Research from Fellowes shows that more than one-third of Europeans reported that they felt they should go to work even when sick.* Thus polluting the clean air around the office with their germs and viruses.

Floating Dust – Just 437 grains of dust contain nearly 42,000 living dust mites. Each mite is expelling 20 fecal pellets every day into the air you breathe.

Office Chemicals (toner, inks, etc) – Odours from felt markers, inks, glues, correction fluid, toner from printers and other office chemicals can emit vapours at room temperature that over time, can cause symptoms similar to inhaling formaldehyde.

Where These Airborne Pollutants Can Be Found in your Office:

Desk Bacteria – The average desk has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen. Eating at your desk whether it be a snack, lunchtime meal or simply a cup of coffee, increases the bacteria levels at your desk. You can also keep your workspace.

Air Vents – Central air conditioning systems can become breeding grounds for mould, mildew and other sources of germs such as viruses and bacteria, which can then distribute these contaminants throughout a home office or any office.

Furniture – Formaldehyde is found in office furniture, particleboard, plywood, and many other products. As it deteriorates, formaldehyde gives off vapours that can cause sensitisation and irritation of the eyes and respiratory system, even at low levels.

Upholstery – Upholstered chairs contain dust mites which worsen asthma symptoms or allergies. These dust particles are released into the air anytime someone sits down.

Carpet – Carpet can hold 8 times its weight in dirt, pesticides and other toxins (such as automotive fluids from car parks and lawn pesticides) brought in on shoes and even bare feet. When dry, these toxins become undetectable airborne particles.

Wood Floors – Engineered wood flooring often uses adhesives containing formaldehyde which eventually becomes airborne chemical vapours.

One simple way to keep air pollutants down in the office is having  houseplants as they will add oxygen and moisture to the indoor air. It also helps to remove pollutants. Studies reveal that indoor plants can clean the air that contains cancer causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene. Indoor plants like Areca Palm, rubber plant and bamboo palm serves the best for these purposes. So get started with cleaner air and bring a plant to the office today.

This article was originally written by Fellows and edited for Office Today Readers. Sources: *Environmental Protection Agency, †Journal of the Royal Society Interface , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, American Lung Association, World Health Organisation, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Allergy UK, European Lung Foundation