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On ‘Clean Air Day’, RPS provides some helpful tips to keep you and your colleagues safe

Today is Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest air pollution campaign: to raise awareness about air pollution; its affect our health; and the steps we can all take to tackle the problem – to protect the environment and our health.

08 October 2020 | 3 min read
Ben Massey

UK

In the UK, under ‘normal’ conditions it’s thought that air pollution may contribute to around 36,000 deaths annually. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. Poor air quality is linked to a variety of health issues including heart and lung disease and may even contribute to mental health issues.

As the coronavirus pandemic spread and countries went into lockdown, we noticed a significant drop in the levels of harmful air pollutants. This had an enormous benefit on those most affected by air pollution, including people suffering from respiratory conditions, who reported an easing of symptoms.

And air pollution doesn’t just affect us when we’re outdoors. Most people spend around 90% of their time indoors, either at home, work, schools or going to shops and restaurants. Therefore, its important to monitor our indoor air quality too. Sources of indoor air pollution include: dust; dirt; or gases in the air that can be harmful when inhaled.

Types of air pollution

  • Particulate matter (PM) – microscopic particles of dust and dirt in the air
  • Gases – carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide

From warehouses and distribution centres to offices or shops, poor indoor air quality can affect any workplace, and this can have a negative effect on the health of you and your colleagues.

Here are some tips to help improve the air quality in your home or workplace:

  • Cleaning – during the COVID pandemic we’ve seen a renewed effort to ensure hygiene standards are maintained, both on a personal level and in a professional setting. Spilt food and drinks can lead to mould growth, which can negatively affect the air quality. Ensure that any spills are cleaned up as soon as possible. A good cleaning routine will help improve air quality in the workplace.
  • Open the windows and doors - fresh air is great. If your workplace has windows and doors, try leaving them open throughout the workday, weather and location permitted. This will make it easier for air to circulate around your workplace and will also help to flush stale air.
  • Bring the outdoors in – humans possess an innate desire to connect with nature. Unfortunately when we’re at work this often isn’t possible. Plants in the work environment can help. These have multiple benefits - helping to reduce carbon dioxide levels and boost the mental health of the people around them.

Indoor air quality assessments have been developed to measure temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as measuring exposure to specific analytes such as metals, gases and various organic compounds. Regular testing can help to ensure good indoor air quality is being maintained. If you notice more people experiencing hay fever or other allergies or becoming ill, you might want to schedule a test to check the air quality.

 

With our attention focused more closely on our health and of those around us, clean air is more important than ever. If you are concerned about the air quality at your place of work, please contact our team to discuss how we can help.

Ben Massey

Business Development - Occupational Health & Hygiene

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