With a greater push for economies to re-open, and for people to return to offices, the Covid-19 virus is but one of the many concerns we should have in the working environment.

The phrase “heading outside for some fresh air” is packed with truth, because the quality of indoor air is typically poorer than that of air outdoors – given that pollutants, viruses and bacteria are recycled in the air, especially if there is not equipment or infrastructure to prevent it.

Ironically, indoor air quality is vital to our everyday lives and health and we normally spend a good 90% of our time indoors. Pollutants found in indoor air should therefore concern us just as much, if not even more than what we see or smell outside. In fact, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health, according to the US Environment Protection Agency.

Poor indoor air quality has often been linked to several common health and productivity issues, such as lack of focus, headaches, eye, nose, throat (ENT) irritations, nausea, fatigue and increase incidence of infection just to name a few. Further to that, the looming thought of contracting an annoying cold or even the Covid-19 virus further necessitates measures to improve and maintain clean air quality indoors for better overall health, and here are three main strategies to help:

1. Source Control

Akin to nipping the problem in the bud, it is important to eliminate the source of pollutants, viruses and bacteria in the office or home environment. Apart from developing measure to eliminate sources of cigarette smoke and chemical vapours (which are the most common sources of indoor pollution), it is equally important to develop a strategy to keep viruses and bacteria at bay as well.

Some tips include:

  • Placing the rack or stand for overcoats further away from the main work area
  • Having a UV-C panel near high traffic points help in eliminating potential virus hotspots
  • Checking to ensure that ventilation points are not currently near combustion or smoking points – if so, relocate the common smoking areas, or close off the ventilation point if the former is not doable.
  • Ensure that paints, cleaning fluids, and other chemical compounds on furniture are properly ventilated
  • Ensure that there is sufficient ventilation in the office, and if not, that there is equipment around to provide ventilation.
2. Maintenance of Systems

Speaking of ventilation, it is important to conduct regular inspections of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems within the compound to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation and distribution of fresh air throughout the entire area.

In fact, one of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality is inadequate upkeep of HVAC systems. When upkeep falls behind, the moisture in systems such as air conditioners are ideal places for mould and bacteria to grow. One can only imagine why that would cause irritation, disease and other symptoms related to poor indoor air. 

HVAC systems should ideally be working synergistically with other purifier devices and panels in your compound, including UV-C lighting panels and ionizers. It is also important to ensure that these devices and panels are well managed to prevent dust, pollutants and even viruses and bacteria from circulating back indoors.


3. Virus-free Air

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of ensuring that our environments are kept sanitized and free of viruses and other harmful microbes. 

UV-C lighting panels are a great way to ensure that the office space remains sanitised, and that viruses such as Covid-19 will not pose a threat to the occupants. These panels typically use short-wave ultraviolet light to inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like viruses, bacteria and even mould on surfaces, air, or even in the water.

This is especially important in an indoor environment, as recirculated indoor air may contain microorganisms like the Covid-19 virus which can infect building occupants.

The design of safe and healthy indoor environments that minimise transmission of infections and disease encompasses many factors, including ventilation, design of traffic flows and physical touchpoints. While such design elements greatly reduce transmissions, they are limited by practical considerations. Solutions such as UV-C disinfections are therefore perfect for spaces to achieve safety in their working environments, while retaining comfort and savvy design.

David Tennyson – Managing Director of MHT Lighting Europe, said “Indoor air is vital to the health and performance of all occupants within. We have the technology to provide safer, cleaner air for everybody – and it should be considered to help ensure safer spaces for everybody in the long run.”