People are increasingly attaching importance to the quality of air. They fight for its clearance by organizing information campaigns, which encourage to limit the pollution through exchange of heating or propagate alternative means of transport for cars. Many people are frightened hearing the information about smog and its influence on our health. What is more, people also attach greater importance to the quality of air in the office. Why? Because we spend there even more than 90 per cent of our time.
Air quality matters
The air quality in the office is extremely important because it has an impact on our health. It can be especially harmful to sensitive groups such as people suffering from asthma or cardiovascular diseases. For instance, too dry air (optimal humidity amounts to 40-60 per cent) may cause trouble breathing e.g. irritation of mucous membrane or susceptibility to infections. Allergens can deepen problems with respiratory system and some of chemicals (such as those applied in cleaners) may cause headaches, nausea, or nose mucosa, etc. Similar irritations may cause volatile organic compounds (chemical compounds characterized by high vapor pressure and easiness to take a form of steam or gas).
There are several parameters which decide whether the air we breathe is appropriate to us. What is important are both the composition (oxygen content) and the quality. Air quality is examined by e.g. testing the content of carbon dioxide, which is determined by the ppm parameter (amount of CO2 particles per million particles of air). It is assumed that the content of CO2 in the air should not amount more than 1000 ppm (it amounts to ca. 350-450 ppm in the clear atmospheric air).
The regulations specify the exact amount of fresh air that should be guaranteed to every person in the room. In case of public utility buildings, each person should be provided with 20 m3 of fresh air per hour. If a building does not have opened windows, this value amounts to 50 m3/h per person. In open space, the amount of fresh air can be even bigger. Polish norms also define the temperate which should amount to 20-23 degrees Celsius in summer (assuming the medium physical activity) and 18-20 degree Celsius in winter. The humidity in winter should be at the level of 40-60 per cent (at the temperature of 18-20 degrees Celsius), and it should not exceed 70 per cent in summer.
Factors affecting air quality
The ongoing human activities, ventilation and air conditioning systems, flow of the air from the inside as well as materials which are used in construction of interiors and furniture have a crucial impact on the air pollution in the interiors. Some of the finishing materials applied in the interiors may emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for months or even years to the air, which deteriorates the air quality in long-term prospect.
Volatile organic compounds may be found in e.g. cleaners and care products, paints, glues/glue materials (parquets, carpet flooring, wallpapers, etc.), candles and essential oils for rooms, fresh printed materials, and even furniture. The air in the room may be polluted with, for instance, tobacco smoke, chemicals, allergens, gases and particles, which are made as a product of fuel combustion.