Cleaning Up Indoor Air Pollution at Work
The key to fixing problems in the indoor air at work are these steps. They take time to work through, but they are core to healthy indoor air.
1. Identify the source(s) of the problem.
Many sources can be removed or kept out of the workspace once identified. However, several sources may combine to become a more serious problem together than they are separately. Are some rooms worse than others or is the problem occur more frequently when some activity occurs?
2. Remove the source of the problem.
Depending on the source, this can be easy (for example, remove the garbage) or may take more work (for example, switch cleaning chemicals). Make sure the workplace is 100 percent tobacco-free. Clean damaged or dirty materials. Remove and replace materials too saturated or damaged to be adequately cleaned. For example, drywall or carpeting that has been flooded will likely need replacing rather than just cleaning.
3. Make sure the ventilation system is working correctly and that air flow is not blocked.
Inadequate ventilation is one of the most common causes of problems with indoor air in a workplace.1
For more information about solving indoor air problems, check out these tools available online. They are designed to help building professionals investigate and solve indoor air problems in the workplace.
- Learn more about the steps to create a lung friendly workplace and get access to template policies and proven effective strategies on our Corporate Wellness page.
- Download the free guidance model IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Get a technical guide to investigating problems from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, click here.
- Search for similar cases on the Health Hazard Exposure database from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). NIOSH also conducts free investigations of some health hazards.
- U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Indoor Environmental Air Quality: Building Ventilation. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/BuildingVentilation.html. Accessed September 27, 2015.
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 28, 2017.