Why Indoor Air Quality is important in the Office – An Office Workers guide

A large proportion of people here in the UK work in an office environment. Many of us carry out our work in home based offices these days and others in large commercial office blocks usually sited in our major towns and cities. Indoor Air Quality can greatly affect our work performance and general health.

 Indoor Air Quality in Offices

We all like to assume that the air we breathe in our offices is clean and free from all air pollution but it is hard to make that assumption any more. We all need to travel, eat, drink and use other vital goods and services. Heating lighting and air conditioning in buildings all use energy. All these activities and requirements usually involve burning of gas oil and other fossil fuels. This burning or combustion produces air pollution in fine particle and gas form that is toxic to people.

We all need protection from this invisible toxic air pollution that we unknowingly inhale into our lungs. As it is not practical to wear a face mask all day and city centre air pollution is set to continue at high levels, what can be done?

We can lobby government to take action but so far that has not resulted in any significant policy changes. Campaign for Clean Air in London is currently leading an active campaign in this area. Alternatively we can show an interest in our local situation and see what can be done on a personal level.

If you work in a large office building then the best way of ensuring you get clean air quality into the building is to make sure the air conditioning or ventilation system in your building has air filters fitted to the required standard of filtration efficiency. Air filters should be fitted that can filter out most of these dangerous small combustion particles known as PM10 and PM2.5

The standard that applies for effective air filters is EN13779:2007. This is a European technical standard that advised a minimum filter class of F7 should be fitted for clean air quality and a recommended class of F9 for best air quality.

One thing you can do is ask your office building facilities manager if the air filters fitted comply to this standard. Many central London councils are currently responding to a survey request to ask if they have filters that are used in their building air systems are correctly selected to this standard.

Another thing you can do to check for is to see if the supply air grilles into your office are clean and if you can see past them into the duct beyond look at that as well. If you can see plumes of dirt and dust deposits coming out of the air grille you should again raise the issue with the building staff as it is an indication the incoming air is not being properly filtered.

If you are working in a home environment but still in an area of high level air pollution then you may not have a large air system with filters. What can be done? There is the option to get a free standing air cleaner unit such as the Camcleaner which can remove a large proportion of these fine particles. An over 96% particle removal rate was achieved in one recent independent test.

HVAC air filters and ducting need regular inspection to ensure that building Indoor Air Quality is maintained. BS 15780:2011 is the new British Standard that advised the time periods between inspections based on building type and usage. Six monthly visual inspections are a good starting point if there are no other specific guidelines recommendations available.

To arrange an AC inspection of your HVAC plant visit www.ac-inspections.co.uk

As the market leading Air Filtration company in UK and the rest of Europe, we have been making surveys and inspections of complex HVAC and process plant filter systems for many years.  You can find a range of useful AC Inspection information and covers: AC Legislation, Low Energy Air Filters, Energy Performance In Buildings and look at energy saving options in UK buildings.  You can visit our case studies page to see some of the projects that we have worked on or download an example of a Camfil Farr AC Inspection Report here.

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