In recent years, the impacts of indoor air quality have become big news. Things like mold spores, pollen, dust, animal dander, chemical vapors, and industrial contaminants have all been linked to respiratory health problems. Especially for individuals with pre-existing respiratory health problems and people afflicted with chronic inflammatory conditions.
At the same time, commercial properties and multi-tenant residential properties are held to a higher standard when it comes to health and safety regulations. Making sure that your office, retail space, or commercial facility meets these indoor air quality standards will go a long way toward mitigating potentially costly liability issues.
The problem is, most of the air purification equipment and cleaning products available at the consumer level, simply aren’t effective enough to meet most of these applicable indoor air quality standards. This puts your occupants at risk for medical and respiratory health issues, while also putting you at risk for non-compliance liability problems. Though, there are still some things you can do, to help improve as well as maintain your commercial property’s indoor air quality.
Tips For Improving & Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality
There are a few things you can do to help improve or maintain good indoor air quality in key locations or throughout your commercial property. If you are concerned about the indoor air quality of your commercial property, industrial facility, or multiple-family residential property.
Open Windows When Possible To Let In Fresh Air
When you think about classic “Spring Cleaning” at home, one of the first things you do is open the windows to let fresh air in. This isn’t always possible in some commercial properties that have completely sealed plate-glass windows. Though if you do have windows that open, with screens to keep insects out, and the outside weather is pleasant, opening the windows can let a lot of clean, fresh air in. Especially in the morning hours of the summer, when the outside temperature is still generally low.
Replace Air Filters Regularly
Most of the HVAC systems in a commercial building or multi-family residential building have air filters that catch dust, pollen, and other indoor airborne contaminants. As time goes on these filters can start to clog up, which reduces the overall efficiency of the building’s HVAC system. This can also lead to particles being released into the ventilation system where they disperse throughout the building. When this happens people with respiratory allergies and other chronic health conditions can feel sick or even have a severe reaction. This is a higher risk during the winter and the hottest days of the summer when HVAC systems run frequently.
Make a point to have your property manager or custodial staff check filters regularly. If a filter is clogged or the HVAC system is underperforming you should replace the filter as soon as possible. Even if you haven’t noticed an overt problem with your HVAC system or your filters look clean to the naked eye you should still have them replaced every 6 to 12 months.
Place Air Filters In Key Locations
Some areas are more prone to buildup airborne contaminants and debris. This includes things like less-used storage areas, basements, utility rooms, and empty offices. Placing small consumer-grade HEPA air filters in these areas will help capture lingering airborne contaminants before they have a chance to settle. This will reduce the risk of them being dispersed on-masse when someone needs to use the space. Not to mention reducing the amount of cleaning that needs to be done when you need to that space again.
Maintain Healthy Ambient Humidity Levels
A growing body of research has found that mold spores are potentially dangerous indoor air contaminants that cause respiratory and other health problems. Especially for people who are genetically predisposed to inflammatory conditions as well as those with allergies and chronic respiratory diseases.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that mold spores exist everywhere in nature and fly almost microscopically in the air around us. They tend to thrive in warm humid conditions, which allow them to germinate and develop active mold colonies. Once a mold colony infests your commercial property it can start to emit more spores that spread through the building like wildfire. Left unchecked, a serious mold infestation can make people ill, as well as damage porous materials like wood and drywall throughout a building.
The first step in preventing the spread of mold spores is to keep the ambient humidity in the building between 30 to 50%. In high humidity times of the year, such as the peak of summer, or immediately after a long period of spring rain, you might need to place large dehumidifiers in key locations throughout the building. Some of the more sophisticated commercial HVAC systems will also have sensors and smart features that let you adjust the ambient humidity in the building.
Clean & Maintain The Building’s HVAC Vents
The vents and ducts in a commercial property’s HVAC are complex. As time goes on dust, and other airborne contaminants, including mold spores, can start to build upon the unseen surfaces. When the system fires up again these build-up deposits can spread on mass throughout the building causing allergic reactions, sneezing, and respiratory distress in compromised individuals.
Unfortunately, HVAC ventilation systems are rarely the sort of thing that you can clean yourself. Sometimes an ineffective effort can even end up disturbing the built-up areas making the problem worse than if it simply would have been left alone.
This truly is a time to call in a professional cleaning service like Building Services Inc. Our technicians have the training, experience, and access to professional-grade equipment that can safely remove airborne contaminants trapped in a building’s HVAC system, without releasing them back into the air. When we are done, we can also help you understand little things you can do to optimize the system and improve overall indoor air quality.
Periodically Have Your Indoor Air Quality Tested
Changes in airflow, humidity levels, industrial odors, biological odors, undetected leaks, ventilation failures, mold spores, and water damage, can all be hard to detect. Left unchecked they can turn into serious health problems caused by constantly degrading indoor air quality.
Having the indoor air quality testing throughout your commercial property or multi-family residential property can help catch these issues before they can worsen into a major problem. This should be done annually, if not seasonally to catch minor issues before they can become a major problem.
Maintain A Professionally Clean Office Space & Commons
Dust, microbes, food waste, and general office debris can also spread indoor air contaminants. Especially in food service, cafeterias, and commons areas. Contracting a professional cleaning service like Building Services Inc., to serve your custodial needs will help maintain your commercial property’s professional appearance as well as make active steps toward reducing the common causes of indoor air quality problems.