Indoor Air Problems

Indoor air problems are common in Finnish workplaces. Air can feel stuffy or heavy, sometimes there are distinct unpleasant odors, draught, or dryness of the air.

Dry indoor air is a common problem, because heated indoors have low relative humidity during winters, and this causes irritation in the mucous membranes of respiratory tracts and sometimes eye problems. Stuffy air is often caused by insufficient ventilation compared to the purpose of use of the area, which results in excessively high concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Draught, on the other hand, is caused by the disparity between air flow and heat: often there is a draft near large and cold window surfaces during winters.

The most significant causes of indoor air problems health-wise are water damages. Exceptional accumulation of moisture in any material can cause microbe growth or emissions from building materials. Symptoms can be caused by microbes, such as fungi (molds and yeasts), bacteria or their segments and metabolites.

In all water damages the most important thing is to fix the damages before they cause health hazards. The cause and extent can be found out with sensory evaluation and microbiological tests.

Indoor air problems should be primarily dealt with within the workplace

Whatever the reason behind indoor air problems, the problem should be primarily dealt with within the workplace. Employees should tell their managers about the problems they have experienced, and the managers must evaluate the situation and either fix the problem or ask for professional help in order to fix it. The task of the occupational health care is to evaluate the possible health hazard caused by indoor air.

Symptoms related to indoor air are usually common symptoms and illnesses of eyes and upper respiratory tracks that worsen at the workplace and ease off at home.

Finding out the reasons behind symptoms often requires the occupational health care to visit the workplace and the patient to undergo tests also in special medical health care. An indoor air quality questionnaire is a usable tool in large workplaces for charting the symptoms of the entire staff. Contacting one’s own occupational health nurse or doctor is always justified when you suspect that an illness is related to the indoor air of the workplace.