Chemical fumes exposure can lead
to headaches, nausea and shortness of breath.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Indoor air quality has become increasingly important in the workplace as companies have come to understand how poor indoor ventilation can affect work performance.

Over the past two weeks, three American companies have been hit with various chemical scares leading to several employees falling sick.

A contractor for the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico cleaned the handrails in the caves one night.  When employees arrived at work the next day, the product’s fumes were still so powerful that employees fell ill, leading to the closure of the caves for two days.

In Florida, a mortgage company had to evacuate its 12 employees from the offices after people started complaining of headaches and scratchy throats. The culprit? Cleaning products. A Tampa HAZMAT team determined that the chemicals for the cleaning products were mixed at too concentrated a level.

In Hawaii, a United States Postal Service employee was sent to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath and nausea. He had handled a parcel which contained a chemical that had leaked through the box. Tests indicated the chemical is often used to make cleaning products.

Source: The Associated Press, Fox 13, HawaiiNewsNow

 

Protecting your employees

Even companies that do not produce chemicals use them for regular cleaning. When dealing with closed spaces, it is particularly important to have good ventilation.  Putting your employees at risk leads to more work-related absenteeism and possible serious injury.

The first thing companies should invest in is a different selection of cleaning agents. Cleaning products are made with various chemicals, such as xylene, toluene and phenol and side effects can range from headaches to death. Using more green products will help avoid workplace chemical exposure.

The 5000 series is ideal for office spaces

Having an air cleaner in areas where chemicals are mixed or used is strongly suggested. For situations such as in the Carlsbad Caverns, an air cleaner should be left on overnight after chemical application. Office kitchens, where chemicals might be mixed, should also have an air cleaner to help mitigate chemical fumes as well as kitchen odors.

Electrocorp’s 5000 series contains an 18 pound carbon filter, a medical-grade HEPA filter and its wheels make it easily maneuverable. Check out our air cleaners for officesfor more details.

Would you like to speak to one of our IAQ experts? Call us toll free at 1-866-667-0297 or write us on our website.

Have you had a chemical scare at work? Share your stories with us!

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