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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in National Air Quality Month

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It is estimated worldwide that air pollution kills seven million people every year, and 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds who guideline limits. Here in the United States, the stats are a bit better but we still have an estimated 107,000 fatalities a year that are contributed to air pollution.

There are five primary air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds. The sources from all of these pollutants include electricity production, industry, and transportation.

How can you take action to keep yourself and your loved ones? Pay attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s index for reporting air quality – with each pollutant given an AQI value.

The AQI is divided into six categories with each category corresponding to a different level of health concern. Each category also has a specific color. The color makes it easy for people to quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities. AQI values at or below 100 are considered satisfactory, with a value 50 or below representing good air quality, and a value over 300 representing hazardous air quality.

AQI Chart
Finding the AQI in your area is quite easy – just go to the AQI tool and type in your zip code or city/state. If your air quality isn’t as satisfactory that day or time and you were planning to spend much time outdoors, try to find less strenuous outdoor activities or plan for another time. High levels of air pollution do affect your health, so plan accordingly.

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October was National Indoor Air Quality Month, an observance aimed at drawing attention to the quality of the air we breathe at home and at work.

Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comparing the risks of environmental threats to public health list indoor air pollution from sources such as secondhand smoke, radon, organic compounds, and biological pollutants among the top five risks on a consistent basis.

In general, most indoor air quality problems in the workplace can be pinpointed to six main sources:
• Inadequate Ventilation – These problems involve lack of adequate fresh air and uneven distribution of fresh air within a structure.
• Humidity and Temperature – These concerns involve levels outside the normal range of human comfort.
• Inside Contamination – Possible sources of contamination include office equipment such as copy machines, office and cleaning supplies, and chemicals that are stored indoors.
• Outside Contamination – As the name suggests, this includes contaminants brought into a work environment, such through improper air intake or even changes in wind conditions (for example, vehicle exhaust fumes from a parking garage or loading dock drawn into a ventilation system).
• Microbial Contamination – This is typically associated with water leaks, water infiltration, increased humidity indoors, humidifiers, and contaminated ventilation ductwork – places that can harbor and encourage the growth of microbes.
• New Building Materials – The results from building materials that have just been installed (such as the familiar gas emissions from new carpeting). Such problems can be dissipated by increasing ventilation and typically resolve over time.

At Workplace Safety & Health Co., our primary concern is to help our customers reduce injuries and illnesses while promoting their profitability through sound health and safety management practices – and that includes helping to identify and manage safety and health risks posed by air quality. Whether your employees’ work environment is predominately indoors or outdoors, our consultants can solve your business's air quality exposures through monitoring, mapping, surveys and evaluations that include qualitative air contaminant hazard assessments, air monitoring, and quantitative air contaminant exposure assessment. So give us a call –and breathe easier.

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