The importance of industrial indoor air quality cannot be understated. It can have serious impact on the health and productivity of any industrial or manufacturing setting. Such an impact not only has an effect on the workers, but on the operation itself
For these reasons, improving and maintaining air quality must be a top priority for engineers, plant operators and everyone involved in the organization. Below is a brief look into common industrial air contaminants as well as prevention approaches to better address indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the condition of breathable air within and around a building or structure. The amount of outside air, temperature, humidity, mold and airborne contaminants are all factors in IAQ. Poor-quality inside air can affect a person’s ability to work and health either soon after exposure or years later. In fact, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental risks to public health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Airborne contaminants and their causes are wide ranging. They can stem from inefficient or uncontrolled systems releasing gases into the environment, such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Additionally, when non-biological particles, such as synthetic fibers, have a diameter of 10 micrometers or less, they become inhalable. Other forms of air pollution can be microbial contaminants, such as fungi, bacteria and even dust mites.
One of the most common indoor pollutants are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are up to 10 times more likely to occur indoors compared to outdoors and can come from solvents, pesticides, caulking, paints, disinfectants and beyond. Adverse effects of VOCs can include difficulty breathing, damage to the central nervous system, eye irritation and much more.
What are specific preventive measures industrial organizations can take? One of the first steps is to perform readings to test the air quality and determine the contaminants present. Once adequate information has been gathered, appropriate solutions can be determined.
Another proactive tactic is to ensure all employees are properly outfitted for the job. Millions of workers across the U.S. wear respirators in the workplace to protect against harmful dusts, smokes, mists, gases, vapors as well as insufficient oxygen levels. While required by OSHA under certain circumstances, proper protective gear should be encouraged regardless of regulations.
Equipment can also be upgraded, or new, high-efficiency mechanisms can be implemented. One modernization to improve air quality is to install custom engineered and fabricated industrial dampers to assure full air flow control of your system. Optimal in industries ranging from air pollution control systems within glass and cement manufacturing to power generation and biomass plants, industrial dampers work to maximize airflow control efficiency at minimal costs.
More needs to be done to ensure the safety of workers and to protect equipment from airborne pollutants. Industrial facilities must move toward more precise and reliable equipment to mitigate poor IAQ and improve conditions overall.
For further information on improving IAQ in industrial and manufacturing settings, please see the accompanying resource.
Guide created by Kelair Dampers