Most of us don't pay much attention to the quality of the air we breathe. If you commute to Johannesburg you probably notice some smog as you approach the city in the mornings, but for the most part we carry on. But is South African air quality acceptable - and what influence do we have over ensuring that the air we breathe is of decent quality?
According to IQ Air South Africa ranks 38th out of 98 countries in the ranking for worst air quality rating. Although our air quality is rated as "Moderate", South Africa's PM (particulate matter) concentration was more than 2 times the WHO exposure recommendation. To add to this concern (especially for me, as a Joburg local) a 2019 Mail & Guardian article stated that the combination of exhaust fumes from its five million cars, dust blown into the city, fires and pollution from industry and power plants shaves a whopping 3.23 years off the lives of people living in Johannesburg!
Why do we need good indoor air quality?
In a previous blog we explored why air quality is so important. In essence, poor air quality can seriously affect your health, causing conditions related to respiratory problems and for companies, can lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in absenteeism.
Why is good indoor air quality more important than ever?
The Coronavirus pandemic has made us all extra cautious about health and hygiene. Copious amounts of hand sanitiser, social distancing and the wearing of mask in public has meant that over the last 6 months we've all become more aware of our surroundings. Air quality has also become a focus area due to ongoing and evolving research about COVID-19's airborne capability.
For office workers this research has served to further heighten safety concerns within the workplace. An international office survey on air quality conducted by Rentokil Initial in March 2020 found that 67% of they survey respondents thought that there was an opportunity to improve air quality in their existing workplace. Even more interesting, 23% of respondents from Singapore would go so far as to decline a job if the air quality in the office was poor at the interview stage.
It raises the question: as an employer, are you willing to sacrifice talent to air quality concerns?
How do you improve indoor air quality in your environment?
- Implement a strong cleaning regime to remove dust and mould from surfaces
- Opt for hard-surface flooring rather than carpets to minimise dust and dirt. If you have carpets, ensure that the carpets are vacuumed at least once or twice a week depending on foot traffic and schedule regular carpet cleaning
- Ensure that fabric chairs, reception furniture, blinds and curtains are cleaned regularly to minimise dust and allergens
- Clean office equipment like desktop computers, printers and shredders regularly to prevent cross contamination and dust particles spreading (we recommend Initial's technology cleaning service)
- Invest in an air purifier, preferably with a HEPA filter, to remove harmful particles from the air
- Change the filters in electronic units like air conditioners and electronic hand dryers as per the recommended service schedule
The old saying goes, "have a filter, or be the filter". Make sure that you are optimising your indoor environment to improve air quality, which will improve staff health and in turn productivity.