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 you just gave your brain a needed energy boost.

Unfortunately, you may have just taken in air that actually harmed your body more than it helped it. 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.” Within the definition exists 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 IAQ in your workplace is poor?

One of the best sources happens to be YOU! Consider the following questions to help evaluate the current IAQ of your workplace.

  • 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 breathe but are unable to 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 have regular inspections of 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 certain 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?

Simply being aware of yourself and of 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.