Indoor air pollution (IAQ) is among the top five environmental health risks people face today, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Poor IAQ can cause a host of problems for businesses including employee illness, absenteeism and lost productivity. The EPA estimates that poor indoor air quality may cost the nation tens of billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and medical care.
From the elimination of cigarette smoking to the advent of the Green Building movement, buildings today are generally healthier places in which to work and visit than they were a few decades ago. However, even with these advances it is estimated that up to 30 percent of occupied commercial buildings have poor IAQ.
Consider the following statistics:
-50 percent of all illnesses are either caused or aggravated by poor IAQ
-On average, IAQ causes an additional sick day per year for every 10 employees
-Average productivity loss due to poor IAQ is between three and seven percent
-In the hospitality industry (hotels, motels, restaurants, bars and casinos), poor IAQ has an estimated $4per square foot impact on productivity (defined as sales, repeat customers, staff efficiency and lost wages)
-Each year companies lose $1,685 per employee due to absenteeism and presenteeism (employees coming to work while sick)
Fortunately, employee health and IAQ can often be significantly improved with an effective air filtration system. Designers can integrate features into ventilation systems that will provide benefits for building occupants as well as the efficiency and longevity of the HVAC system. In addition, many features can reduce the need for expensive cleaning of the duct work and air handling units. Key changes might include improving ventilation to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors, or upgrading air filters for more effective particle removal.
What does your building do to minimize the impact of poor IAQ?