Take a deep breath and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly release that breath to a count of 5. Breathe in and out like that for a total of 5 repetitions. Relaxing, right? The extra oxygen just gave your brain a needed energy boost.

Unfortunately, you may have just taken in the air that harmed your body more than it helped. Perhaps not, but how do you know?

Indoor Air Quality, Part I will help you understand the possible signs of poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) at work. Indoor Air Quality, Part II, will provide tips for improving IAQ.

Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality

OSHA defines Indoor Air Quality as “how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work.” The definition is the impact of temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, mold from water damage, and exposure to chemicals.

So what’s the best way to determine if the air quality in your workplace is poor?

One of the best sources happens to be YOU! Consider the following questions to help evaluate your workplace’s current indoor air quality.

  • Do you notice any musty odors?
  • Is the building hot and stuffy?
  • Do you experience headaches and fatigue at work that disappear when you go home?
  • Do you experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath but cannot get a diagnosis or find a cause?
  • Do you have health symptoms that are not going away or are getting worse?
  • Does your workplace have good ventilation?
  • Does your workplace regularly inspect the ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems?
  • Do you notice any water damage, pest droppings, leaks, or dirt?
  • Is there any standing water in your workplace?

Additional questions OSHA suggests asking include:

  • Are my symptoms related to a specific time of day, season, or location at work?
  • Did the symptoms start when something new happened at work, such as a renovation or construction project?
  • Do other people at work have similar complaints?

Being aware of yourself and your surroundings can help you decide if IAQ might be a problem where you work. If, after going through the above questions, you feel that IAQ might be a problem in your workplace, first see your doctor for possible confirmation and for treatment. Then, consider implementing the tips provided in Indoor Air Quality, Part II.