As a chemical engineer with a background in indoor air quality, I am keenly aware of the invisible risks associated with indoor air pollution, which can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Add to this the new coronavirus and the need for effective air cleaning and sanitizing has never been more critical. We’re seeing a major shift in thinking from companies relative to the indoor air quality and how it is affecting their operations. They are adjusting to current circumstances with a renewed focus on employee and customer safety.
By now, we have all heard that New York State is requiring malls to install filters or other systems to remove the new coronavirus from indoor air, and may likely expand this to include many other types of business. Smart companies are getting ahead of the curve and we are sharing what we had already learned from our own research and practical applications.
At OneGroup, we have always included indoor air quality when considering our clients’ risk profiles, not only for potential risk to employees, but also in terms of employee productivity and engagement. We’ve seen the research that shows how indoor work conditions and circumstances affect a person’s mood and behavior resulting in employees feeling irritable, lethargic, or physically ill. Often, this silent and invisible risk is driving decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and higher healthcare costs to name a few of its impacts. According to studies, one’s ability to focus, concentrate, and abilities to reason can be hindered by inadequate ventilation, elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), and indoor pollutants. In extreme conditions, life and health are threatened. This pandemic has brought this issue into clear focus.
Even prior to the new virus, the impact on business was staggering:
- The American Lung Association estimates U.S. adults miss about 14.5 million work days due to asthma;
- The CDC estimates that U.S. workers miss an average of four days each year due to sinus infections;
- Studies show an average worker productivity loss of 7 percent or higher with individual productivity losses as high as 33%;
- Total cost to the U.S. economy from poor IAQ range as high as $168 billion each year.
OneGroup has for some time tested and installed various air filtration systems in our own facilities to better understand how to help our clients. As a result, we have partnered with Healthway, another great Central New York Company, and an internationally recognized leader in indoor air purification and wellness.
I asked Vinny Lobdell, indoor air quality expert and Global President of Healthway family of brands to weigh in.
“Pre COVID, the World Health Organization ranked air pollution the number one health epidemic of our time, contributing to more than 7 million premature deaths each year,” said Lobdell. “A silver lining in all of this may be that people will start taking air pollution and the impact it has on humans occupying the built environment more seriously. Two years ago IAQ was on OneGroup’s radar and a plan put in place to educate business owners on the risks associated with not properly managing IAQ. OneGroup’s client-first focus always puts them well ahead of the curve and the competition.”
Healthway’s technology is the only air purification system capable of eliminating all three indoor air contaminants: particles (dust, dust mites, pollen, dander, mold and more), volatiles organic compounds (paints, solvents, cleaning solutions, perfumes, etc.), and microorganisms (fungi, viruses and bacteria). More importantly, their systems are capable of removing dangerous ultra-fine particles down to .0007 micron in size, far smaller than the new coronavirus. In fact, we are so impressed with Healthway’s products, technology and processes, that we asked them to design a variety of their systems for our own various offices to ensure our employees were breathing the safest air possible.
We all can do better and now it is an imperative. We are happy to share any knowledge we have gained as we continue to research the topic of indoor air quality and its effect on businesses and their employees.
Pierre Morrisseau is the CEO of OneGroup and can be reached at 800-268-1830.