05 May Take a Deep Breath – WELL Air Quality Standards
Take a deep breath. Was your air fresh? How can you tell? Modern offices are notorious for their recirculated air. We’ve all heard of “Sick Building Syndrome” where workers have a variety of health problems from breathing the stale, toxic air caused by airtight buildings. Nausea, headaches, and respiratory irritation from volatile organic compounds and particulates can make going to work a challenge.
Clean air is such a basic necessity that it’s the first WELL Building Standard (#01 Air Quality Standards). This standard outlines the requirements employers should follow to provide the best air quality for their employees: formaldehyde levels less than 27 parts per billion (ppb), carbon monoxide levels less than 9 ppm, ozone levels less than 51 ppb, and radon levels less than 4pC/L. What can we do to ensure that everyone’s air is this clean?
First, the standard requires that the air is tested after occupancy. After passing that, there are a few innovative products and services that can help maintain good air quality. Aircuity offers a system that gives a real-time assessment of indoor air quality. When its sensors pick up an unhealthy level of carbon monoxide or particulates, it activates the building’s ventilation system to fix the problem. More and more building owners are self reporting results on a real-time basis to their occupants. On a smaller scale, Lighting Science makes a desktop lamp that not only provides a broad spectrum of light, but also monitors the quality of the air around it. I have been using this lamp at my desk for the past few months and from time to time it does have an alert, but typically only when I am cleaning my desk surface with a Clorox wipe.
Clean air is the most basic necessity for a WELL certified building. By monitoring and fixing the air quality of the workplace, you can let everyone breathe a little easier.