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Indoor Air Quality: Breathe Better:

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Is your team back in the office? Now is a good time to take a breath and check in on your indoor air quality. We’re not talking about a mindful breath. This month, we are talking about indoor air quality. We challenge you to change the very air your team breathes in this month’s Organizational Wellness Challenge.

What is in the air you breathe and why does it matter?

Indoor air quality (sometimes IAQ) is a way of talking about the air inside a building—the indoor condition of the air itself, as well as light and noise conditions. The air is filled with the pollutants people bring in with them like perfumes and viruses, as well as contaminants emitted by things inside the building like furniture, paint, cleaning products, etc. This all effects the people inside the building, as well as their work.

Indoor air pollution can increase the risk of cancers, spread respiratory diseases like COVID-19 and influenza, trigger allergies and asthma, and contribute to sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms. These illnesses lead to lost work time and increased medical costs, up to tens of billions of dollars nationally according to the EPA. Beyond illness, research shows that carbon dioxide build up in indoor air impacts decision making and increases reaction time and fatigue. Employees in buildings with low indoor air pollution and carbon dioxide concentrations displayed better cognitive function than individuals in more typical settings.

What to do about it?

Make some changes.

  1. Meet key players. Do you know your building manager? Does your office have a Green Team or similar group? Now’s the time to introduce yourself and ask some questions.
  2. Know the score. Find out which standards your building meets and understand what that means for your team. (The CDC just updated ventilation standards.) Observe what you can: Is the HVAC set to on or does the fan stop running? What’s the CO2 concentration throughout the day? Does your team report feeling drowsy or fatigued? Have you observed respiratory illnesses passing through the office?
  3. Advocate for change. Encourage your building management to adhere to or exceed the latest standards and take part in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge. Emphasize the benefits of indoor air quality to your company. Talk to your team about changes they can make individually.
  4. Offer flexibility. Offer your team the flexibility to work where it makes sense for them, especially if they are unwell.
  5. Do what you can. Open a window, turn on a portable HEPA filter or CR box, and put COmonitors in workspaces and meeting rooms.

Change the air your team breathes with June’s Organizational Wellness Challenge. Know the score, seek change, stay flexible, and do what you can. CEEK a Better Way…with clean air!