Asthma is on the rise in North America - and IAQ at work may play a role.

Occupational asthma is an issue in many workplaces, and it has been linked to poor indoor air quality.

Indoor air pollution is one of the main factors for Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), a health issue that has been recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 20 years ago.

SBS can be caused by many factors, including poor lighting, improperly maintained HVAC systems, building materials etc.

It is estimated that in some countries up to 30 percent of all offices, hotels, instiotutions and industrial sites suffer from SBS. One manifestation of SBS is occupational asthma, which makes up around 15 percent of all adult-onset asthma cases in the developed world.

Putting that in context, occupational asthma is the most common, work-related lung disease in developed countries and is caused by occupational exposure to airborne substances known as asthmagens. Over 200 respiratory sensitizers already have been classified and others are being identified all the time.

Across the world, the incidence of asthma is on the increase as more people adopt western lifestyles and become exposed to greater numbers of asthmagens.

Internationally, there are an estimated 300 million asthma sufferers and, according to WHO, some 250,000 people died from asthma worldwide in 2005 alone.

The number of diagnosed asthma and asthma symptoms has been growing steadily over recent decades.

The most important risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways.

These substances can be everything from pollen and dust mites to animal dander and chemicals released by adhesives. Miniscule dust particles settle in the lungs, and the smallest particles can end up in the bloodstream, with potentially serious consequences.

Early detection is important in occupational asthma, because people spend so much time at work. One estimate suggests that a person in a full-time office job will spend up to 1,800 hours a year in their office.

Employers, facility managers and health and safety officer should keep the following points in mind to develop the best prevention and control strategies:

  1. Conduct a workplace assessment to identify potential asthmagens
  2. Make changes to improve IAQ: For example, installing a better ventilation system or placing dangerous chemicals in a fume cupboard.
  3. Make sure the building is cleaned regularly to control dust and particles, while avoiding harsh cleaning chemicals
  4. Ban indoor smoking, perfumes and air fresheners
  5. Speak to employees about IAQ, occupational asthma and what to do if someone suffers an asthma attack at the workplace

Source: Environmental Health and Safety Today

Improve IAQ at the workplace with industrial air cleaners

Even with source control and good ventilation, the indoor air quality at the workplace may suffer due to off-gassing materials (building materials, paint, electronic devices, large format printers).

PrintSafe air cleaner for large office printers.

Electrocorp has designed high-quality industrial air cleaners to help improve the indoor air quality in offices, large and small buildings, plants and workshops.

The air cleaners from Electrocorp are equipped with a multi-stage filtration system to effectively remove a wide range of indoor air pollutants by adsorbing chemicals, gases and odors in a deep bed of granular activated carbon, trapping particles and pathogens in a HEPA or Super-HEPA filter and by offering the choice of UV germicidal filtration, which helps neutralize live contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, mold spores and mold mycotoxins.

With a complete line of products for small and large spaces, different carbon blends and filter materials depending on need and other features and customizable options, Electrocorp is sure to provide you with a cost-effective and reliable air cleaning solution.

Contact us for more information.