Let’s face it: we spend a lot of our time in our office. But how often have you found yourself feeling sluggish and unable to focus in your office? The good news is that it’s not your fault. You aren’t falling behind or unmotivated. It might be entirely due to your office’s air quality.
Air quality plays a huge role in our physical and mental health! It allows us to think more clearly, focus better, and improve all our bodily functions – from our brain to our gut.
We measure air quality by the Air Quality Index (AQI), which tells us that offices are woefully negligent when it comes to air quality.
What Is The AQI?
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a scale from 0 to 500 to gauge the air quality. The scale works as follows:
0 to 50 is healthy,
51 to 100 is considered moderate,
101 to 150 is known to be unhealthy for sensitive groups,
151 to 200 is unhealthy for everyone,
201 to 300 is very unhealthy,
And anything over 300 is considered hazardous for all groups.
The AQI takes into account pollutants and contamination in the air. While the AQI of outdoor areas is readily available, it is more difficult to find the AQI of indoor spaces. Unfortunately, not knowing what our indoor air quality is has detrimental effects. We often don’t realize that our indoor air quality has 2 to 5 times more concentrated contaminants than outdoor spaces.
What Does The Average Office’s Air Quality Look Like?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many spend most of their working hours in an office environment. Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside.”
Why does this happen?
In the 1970s, during the energy crisis, we strove to make homes more efficient. This meant trapping in all the air that went through the HVAC system so it would not constantly be running. While we were successful in this endeavor, there was an unforeseen side effect. The efficient buildings also trapped in all the contamination.
Offices also have a number of indoor pollutants like cleaning aerosol sprays, copiers, candles, air fresheners, and more. Additionally, humans breathe out a lot of carbon dioxide.
The ventilation systems of these buildings were not designed to remove large amounts of contaminants from the air, too. So while they may be circulating the air, which is helpful, they don’t clean the air.
In turn, we often feel sluggish, tired, and unmotivated in offices. Long term, this can also impact our health.
The good news is that fewer and fewer people are actively working in an office space. But is working from home the solution to poor office air quality?
Is Working From Home The Solution?
At this point, it should not be shocking that a large number of people are working from home. Around 4.7 million employed people work from home at least half the time. It is estimated that 36.2 million Americans will work from home by the end of 2022 because of its popularity and financial saving potential.
While working from home is the solution for a lot of things, is it the solution to an office’s indoor air quality?
Our homes face a lot of the same pollutants that an office faces (aerosols, candles, etc.). On top of that, homes have more sources of pollution. For instance, people work out at home which increases carbon dioxide output and many homes use wood heat.
Similar to modern office buildings, newer homes were built with energy efficiency in mind, so they are also trapping pollutants indoors.
Is Working From A Coffee Shop The Solution?
For those who work remotely but need the buzz of people around them, more and more people are choosing to work in public spaces, like coffee shops. Coffee shops feel fresh and renewed, so are they the solution to poor office air quality?
Sadly, the answer is also no, they are not the answer. But they do keep energy levels high with that caffeine buzz!
Coffee shops face the same indoor air problems as offices and homes. They do, however, pose an additional: carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from degassing beans.
If your favorite local coffee shop is roasting their own beans, they are dealing with a LOT of CO and CO2. When beans are roasted at very high temperatures, CO and CO2 are created in the beans. To maximize flavor and freshness, the beans go through a process called degassing. This is the release of the gasses. The beans continue to release CO and CO2 in their bag, which is why bean bags have vents on them.
So, basically, indoor air quality in coffee shops where beans are roasted or stored in large quantities is not that great.
What Is The Solution To Poor Office Air Quality?
If the solution is not working from home or a coffee shop or an office… What is the solution? How do we protect our physical and mental health?
Well, you could spend tens of thousands on renovating your ventilation system OR you could invest in a quality air purifier.
At Filtr, alongside the world’s clean air experts, we designed the first readily available cleanroom grade air purifier for the general public. This air purifier is already working in offices, gyms, coffee shops, stores, and more to rid the air of harmful contaminants.
With a long-lasting HEPA filter and state-of-the-art surface sanitization technology, this is a powerful step towards protecting your health.
Not to mention your productivity in the office! Clean air has been tied to better concentration, happier moods, and improved productivity.
Is the Revolution right for you? Learn more about it here.