In recent months, some of us have returned to work in the office and those, on the other hand, only go a few days per week. We usually spend most of our time in the office, closed within the same environment for hours. Have you ever thought about the effects this can have on your health?
Meeting rooms and offices that have been closed for months and now that we are in the middle of winter, the windows remain closed and the heating is on. The air we breathe in these spaces is full of pollutants that are harmful to our health and that have important effects on people.
Think about long meetings, where you started feeling headaches, tiredness and dizziness. These are all symptoms caused by indoor air pollution and the well-known "sick building syndrome". This is why it is important to change some habits to improve your productivity and working life in the office.
The effects air pollution can have on your work
Outside, when there are very high levels of pollution, you can see, smell, and feel it. Cities full of smog where it is difficult to see and breathing becomes heavy and difficult. But inside, you often can't detect what's in the air. When people can't see something, sadly, they ignore it.
A two-year study by the medical journal The Lancet found that 6.5 million people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality.
The effects of internal pollution can be multiple on health: a sense of exhaustion, respiratory problems, headaches, loss of concentration, nervousness, and much more. But we are often unaware of the effects that breathing polluted air during our working day can also affect our motivation and the way we work. You think it's impossible, right?
"China continues to lead the way in indoor environmental quality monitoring, partly due to the prevalence of outdoor air pollution in significant parts of the country," says Matthew Clifford, Head of Energy and sustainability in Asia Pacific for JLL. "In addition to avoiding the negative impacts of poor air quality, improving indoor air has many positive benefits, including increased productivity, which has a direct impact on business profits."
In fact, one of the consequences of hours and hours of breathing pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is the decline in productivity! Economists from the University of Singapore found that prolonged exposure to air pollution in the workplace reduces worker productivity by 1%. This therefore does not only happen in offices, but in every indoor workplace! This is why it is essential to take care of the air we breathe every day in every place where we can control it.
Air quality certifications
Many certifications have been created to improve indoor environments and occupant health on a global scale. Among the most famous are RESET, WELL, and LEED.
The RESET standard, for example, deals with various aspects besides air quality: materials, water, and energy. This certification is awarded to buildings where the indoor air quality data meet the required standards in real time. To have the air RESET certification in your building you need to achieve some objectives. The parameters that are taken into consideration are PM 2.5, VOC, CO2, CO, temperature and humidity. For example:
- Indoor PM2.5 levels must not exceed 35µg / m3.
- Indoor VOC levels must not exceed 500µg / m3.
RESET's vision is focused on the fact that building owners and inhabitants around the world measure every necessary detail of their building's inputs and results. It is important for us to point out that air quality is one of the significant aspects for assessing the quality and well-being inside buildings.
Where is pollution hiding in the offices?
Indoor pollution is less known than outdoor pollution because we are often unaware of the countless sources of pollution that we find in our offices.
First of all, building materials and office furnishings are among the main sources of pollution. In fact, building materials and products can release substances that are harmful to the health of the inhabitants, including:
- Volatile Organic Compounds, in particular, Formaldehyde
- Biological pollutants such as fungi, molds, and bacteria
Another source of pollution that we find in our offices is cleaning products. Often to clean and disinfect offices, in this period more than ever, no natural-based products are used. These types of detergents release a huge amount of VOCs such as ammonia and benzene. Surprising research conducted in the United States found that everyday objects such as soaps and perfumes contribute to air pollution in the United States cities as much as cars and trucks.
In many workspaces, indoor air circulates with air recirculation systems. This type of air recirculation doesn’t allow the workers to breathe clean and healthy air. Unless the system includes suitable filters, the outside air, filled with pollutants, is drawn inside and circulated around the office.
Think of the immense amount of toxic substances that come from outside: smog, car exhaust, smoke from wood-burning, and other materials. All these elements with ventilation systems in many offices are breathed daily by people who stay in the same environment for hours.
As we all know, indoor air pollution is up to 5 times higher than outdoor pollution. Therefore, all sources of pollution such as detergents, printers, toxic agents released by furniture, and much more contribute to decreasing the quality levels of the air we breathe all day.
It is therefore essential to adopt solutions that filter the internal air of offices and other workplaces. Natede is the sustainable and IoT solution against air pollution, that allows you to remove:
- -93% of Volatile Organic Compounds including formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia
- -40% fine dust (PM 2.5)
- -99% of bacteria
Natede is a smart air purifier that thanks to its double filtering layer given by the plant itself and the photocatalytic filter allows you to eliminate all the harmful substances that slow us down to work. Furthermore, there are no extra costs because the filter does not need to be replaced! And the plant? Natede has a self-irrigation system that with a Sansevieria you will (almost) never need to get wet! In fact, this plant is perfect for offices because it requires very little water and can live peacefully with little light - even artificial - available.