Requirement under Alberta OH&S Code, Part 4, Section 20 & 21
When we look at harmful agents, we sometimes forget that those most dangerous, are invisible and undetectable by smell. Many of us become complacent and work in environments where we feel that respiratory protection is redundant because it is only dust right?
Dust makes up many particles including, but are not limited to silica, lead, cadmium, pollen, bulk chemicals, as well as grain and wood dust. Depending on the size of the dust particles, they can enter various regions of the respiratory tract and are responsible for cancer of the throat and lungs, in addition to many other illnesses.
Besides dust, indoor air quality can also be used to test for molds, combustion fumes, asbestos and other fibres, VOC’s, metal fumes, and many other hazardous agents that may be air-borne. Routine air quality monitoring as well as proper housekeeping procedures and adequate ventilation, can help keep work environments safe, and is a requirement under OH&S regulation.
Good indoor air quality helps you provide a healthy and productive environment for all workers and others who occupy the area. There are many ways to help maintain and achieve good air quality, and to improve poor air quality.
Most indoor air quality problems can be prevented with good maintenance, and resolved with simple and inexpensive measures.
Why indoor air quality is Important:
In the past few decades, energy conservation measures have led to airtight building construction that can create problems with indoor air quality. Frequently the ventilation systems are set to minimize the amount of fresh air entering and circulating within the building. This restriction impacts indoor air by allowing a build-up of air contaminants within the building that are not properly removed. Indoor air quality Health Concerns People spend a lot of time indoors – for example, many office workers will spend their entire working day inside buildings. People who may have concerns about indoor air quality often mention the following symptoms as health concerns:
• dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.
• shortness of breath
• hypersensitivity and allergies,
• sinus congestion,
• coughing and sneezing
Indoor air quality problems can be the result of many factors. Building materials and furnishings, building equipment and activities, outdoor climate, and the building occupants themselves can play a role in IAQ problems. Common areas of concern include:
• Indoor air contaminants – chemicals, cleaners, dusts, moulds, fungi, odours, and vehicle exhaust emissions.
• Not enough outdoor air, poor air quality or poor air circulation.