How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Did you know poor IAQ or indoor air quality can affect the health of your occupants and visitors? Keeping the air in your facility clean is vital to occupant comfort and health. Find out how to remove viruses, mold, dust, and other air pollutants in this article.

Did you know poor IAQ, or the indoor air quality, can affect the health of your occupants and visitors? Keeping the air in your facility clean is vital to occupant comfort and health. Find out how to remove viruses, mold, dust, and other air pollutants in this article by learning how you can improve indoor air quality at your business’s facility.

What are the Downsides of Poor Air Quality?

IAQ, or the indoor air quality of your building, has a big impact on your occupants. Poor indoor air quality can create discomfort and illness amount the people in your building. Sometimes it can even lead to health issues that seemingly have no direct cause, meaning that fresh air is crucial for the well- being of everyone in your facility.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) refers to this as “sick building syndrome,” which is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building. There are numerous causes for sick building syndrome including chemical and biological contaminants, but inadequate ventilation and poor air quality are notable sources of discomfort for many.

These symptoms typically include, but are not limited to: 

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Irritation of nose, throat, and eyes
  • Respiratory diseases

Depending on the type of facility you manage, this can create several issues.

Poor IAQ in schools can create long and short-term health effects for students and staff, which can affect their performance. Students that are affected by poor air quality may have reduced attendance, comfort, and performance. Given how students attend school with the primary purpose of learning, poor air quality can inhibit their growth and development in the classroom.

For businesses, employees can also be affected by poor indoor air quality which can cost tens of billions of dollars each year because of reduced worker productivity and illnesses. Poor air quality can also be detrimental to the well-being and experience of customers who visit your facility.

Up until recently, improving indoor air quality wasn’t a high priority for many businesses. However, as COVID-19 surged, more people realized the importance of clean air since illnesses including COVID, the flu, and the common cold are spread through the air.

While COVID-19 has been around since 2019, removing the virus (SARS-CoV-2), and other contaminants, like dust, allergens, and other illness-causing germs is still as important as ever.

If there is one concept that will last well past the current COVID-19 surge, it is the importance of improving indoor air quality. Before we tell you how to improve your building’s indoor air quality, let’s review:

What is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality refers to the number of pollutants inside and around the outside of your facility. The air outside of your facility contributes to the quality of air inside your facility because ventilation systems allow air to pass into your building. If there are high levels of air pollution outside of your building, your indoor pollutant levels will also likely be high.

What Are the Most Common Air Pollutants? 

There are many pollutants that linger in the air that we breathe every day. Some of the indoor pollutants that cause poor indoor air quality include:

  • Bacteria, Mold, and Viruses
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Dirt and Dust, Including Dust Mites
  • Building Materials
  • Outdoor Sources (such as tobacco products, etc.)
Poor indoor air quality impacts concentration and performance.

Poor indoor air quality impacts concentration and performance, among many other factors for an individual’s well-being and performance. Allergens, like mold, can cause musty odors and are linked to health issues like headaches, allergic reactions, and respiratory discomfort.

In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of using an air purifying system to help you understand if it might be a good indoor air quality solution for your facility.

How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

The best way to improve indoor air quality is to reduce the number of pollutants that are present in the air.

While this can be done in several ways, some of the most popular include:

  • Increase ventilation. There are several ways to accomplish this including opening windows and doors to create natural ventilation allowing fresh air into your building.
  • Have your building’s HVAC (Increased Filtration and Purification Technologies) systems inspected to ensure it is operating properly. Make repairs and upgrades if needed.
  • Check and clean or replace air filters.
  • Clean and maintain your facility on a regular basis, reducing the build up of dust.
  • Invest in portable air purifying technology.

While there are several ways to improve indoor air quality, the most flexible, versatile, and economical option is through the use of a portable air purifier.

What are Portable Air Purifiers and Why are they a Flexible Option for Commercial Buildings?

Portable air purifiers are commercial air purification systems that operate separately from your facility’s HVAC system. These purifiers filter the air in a certain area of your facility and complete multiple air changes per hour.

A portable air purifier can either be wall-mounted, recessed into the wall, or standing. The Fellowes Air Purifier provides flexibility to install units in locations that are most convenient while not occupying a large amount of space.

Fellowes Aeramax Pro Air Purifier

Some of these systems have features that are easy to use and can provide your occupants and visitors with clean air, faster. These features include:

  • Multiple Layers of Filtration
  • Smart Technology
  • Easy Movement

Multiple Layers of Filtration

There are commercial air purifiers that use multiple layers of filtration to remove as much of the air pollutants from an area as possible. The different filters work together to remove different kinds of particles from the air, like odors and VOCs.

Smart Technology

Some units have smart technology that will allow the purification system to run most efficiently. This smart technology uses a sensor to sense when people are in the area and will adjust fan speeds to best clean the air while conserving energy and extending the filter life. There are also settings that accommodate the need for quiet fan speeds and will emit less noise when the room is occupied.

The air purifier may even have the capability to show you the percentage of particles being filtered out of the air and the quality of the air in the room.

Many commercial air purifiers are built to be run 24/7 without affecting the effectiveness of the system. Because of this, you can rest assured that your air is being cleaned consistently.

Easy Movement

Another feature of portable air purifiers that makes them a good option for cleaning the air in your facility is that they can be moved easily. If you notice that an area is being used less, you can move the equipment from a low-traffic area to a higher trafficked one.

What are the Drawbacks of Commercial Portable Air Purifiers?

Though portable air purifiers are a great air cleaning solution, their size affects the amount of space they’re effective in. Each commercial air purifier has a maximum space recommendation that will allow the air purifier to achieve 3-5 air changes per hour. It’s important to note that you may need more than one device to clean the air in your entire facility.

By putting a system in a room that is too large, you may not be able to remove pollutants from your air. This means that you will need multiple portable air purification systems to efficiently clean the air throughout your building.

What Businesses Can Benefit from Commercial Portable Air Purifiers?

Now that you understand how you can improve indoor air quality, you may be wondering what types of facilities are most applicable for their use. All types of businesses, whether they are large or small, and no matter what types of services they provide, can benefit.

Imperial Dade has had success with the Fellowes Aeramax Pro® line of portable air purifying devices, which is a great option for cleaning the air in your facility to create a safer environment.

In fact, one of our customers purchased the Fellowes Aeramax Pro ® purifiers to help them improve the quality of air in their school. They were looking for ways to ensure that their students were coming into a safe and healthy building as they returned to school after the summer.

Many of the students have medical issues that are related to allergies and asthma, which are triggered when there are higher levels of pollution in the building. They chose to implement portable air purifiers throughout their school because of the company’s experience with air purifying technology and the purifiers are inexpensive to run.

Improved indoor air quality in schools has been shown to improve attendance, enhancing focus, and making students more comfortable. With the addition of portable air purifiers, schools can ensure the air their students are breathing is clean and safe.

Improved indoor air quality in schools has been shown to improve attendance.

Final Thoughts

By learning how you can improve indoor air quality at your facility and implementing improvements that lower the amount of contaminants in the air, everyone in your facility will be more comfortable.

If you’re interested in improving your facility’s indoor air quality, an Imperial Dade Specialist can help you decide on the best air purification system for your building. Our specialists will assess your specific needs, building size, and budget to match you with the system that will be most effective. In addition, Imperial Dade also offers a complete line of cleaning products and janitorial equipment to help your facility clean.

Reach out to an Imperial Dade specialist today! Visit our website for a location near you.

Disinfection – Where do we go from here?

By John Thomas

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one reality that has emerged is that as a nation we are now using more disinfectants, on more surfaces, and more frequently than ever before.  In addition, many of these surfaces were never designed or intended to be disinfected.  Plus, we’re applying the disinfectants through a whole new range of sprayer, fogging and misting systems, many of which weren’t even on the market 6 months ago.  Although the concern for COVID-19 is valid, we do need to be equally concerned about the possible health and environmental impact of the significantly increased exposure to these potent disinfectant chemistries.

As we move to the next, and hopefully final, stage of our battle against the SARS coronavirus, it is a good time to consider the implications of our disinfection practices and look at an emerging concept known as targeted hygiene.  Targeted hygiene fosters a balanced approach of preventing disease transmission with reducing over exposure of the environment to disinfectants and other microbial agents and potentially offers a sustainable strategy for the control of pathogenic microorganisms.

“It is a good time to consider the implications of our disinfection practices and look at an emerging concept known as targeted hygiene.”

During the COVID-19 health crisis, concerns with controlling the spread of disease has resulted in an extraordinary level of disinfection, be it through manual wipes or electrostatic sprayers.  While the cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces is an important component of an effective hygiene program, a risk assessment of possible disease exposure needs to be a part of the decision making process.  The following considerations can help assess risk levels and provide guidance in establishing the appropriate disinfection protocols.

Sites and Surfaces

Cleaning by manual wiping is generally sufficient for surfaces that in contact with a limited number of individuals.  Then as the number of people interacting with these surfaces increases, the addition of a daily or periodic disinfectant application is warranted.  Also, the surfaces themselves can make a big difference in the transmission of infection. Soft surfaces resist disinfection due to their very nature.  At best, we can only hope to achieve some level of sanitizing which is just a reduction of pathogens and again needs to be weighed against the real infection transmission exposure risk.  Variations in the behavior of the specific pathogen and their persistence in the environment plays a role in this analysis

Cleaning Versus Disinfecting

“Some facilities are attempting to disinfect as if they are in a constant state of outbreak which can potentially result is an overuse of disinfectants.”

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting has always recommended a two level approach.  Basically, when the facility is free of active outbreaks in the facility is to continue to conduct routine cleaning and disinfection using the products typically used with attention being paid to surfaces not normally cleaned on a daily basis.  But, when there is an outbreak, or positive cases are identified, all potentially affected areas need to be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly with special attention to all frequently touched surfaces.  However, it has been our experience that some facilities are attempting to disinfect as if they are in a constant state of outbreak which can potentially result is an overuse of disinfectants.

Safety Precautions

Key to the safe use of any of these potent disinfectant chemicals is following the use instructions on the label which provides information on proper dilution, contact times, application methods, and first aid.  Many disinfectants do not have approved label instructions for application via electrostatic sprayers and/or foggers so it is important to get clear, written authorization from the chemical manufacturer prior to their use through these systems.  Furthermore, it is important to insure that proper personal protective equipment is employed during disinfection as there can be significant health hazards, especially where spraying or fogging is involved.

“At Imperial Dade, our corporate commitment to health and wellness allows us the opportunity to assist our customers in establishing targeted hygiene programs appropriate to their facilities and operations.”

Once the current COVID-19 health emergency is brought under control, thought will need to be given as to developing a sustainable approach to maintaining hygienic environments in our schools, healthcare institutions, restaurants, and office buildings.  At Imperial Dade, our corporate commitment to health and wellness allows us the opportunity to assist our customers in establishing targeted hygiene programs appropriate to their facilities and operations. 

Contact your local Imperial Dade sales consultant to learn more about the products, services and programs that are available. Visit us at our website for a location near you and request a consultation.

John Thomas, Director of Health & Wellness at Imperial Dade, earned a BS in Microbiology from Penn State University and began his career as a microbiologist in the food industry. He has taught high school chemistry and worked for a number of leading chemical companies before joining Imperial Dade. He holds a number of professional certifications including the CMIP (Certificate of Mastery in Infection Prevention) and has completed programs in epidemiology by APIC (Association of Professionals in Infection Control.)

Which Building Rating System is Right for your Facility?

As the economy starts its slow path to recovery and employees return to the workforce, many are wondering what the future workplace will look like after COVID-19. Organizations across the world have reassessed and revamped sanitation practices, furniture layouts, and protective measures. Still, it’s difficult to determine whether these changes will be effective in creating a safe and healthy work environment without outside professionals’ help. That’s why so many business owners elect to utilize safety rating systems to prepare their establishment in the post-COVID world.

At its core, a safety rating system is designed to help an organization cultivate and maintain a workplace that enhances its occupants’ health and wellness. Take a look at some of the benefits offered by these programs.

No two safety rating systems are the same. Below, we will outline some the differences between the GBAC STAR Facility Rating System and the WELL Health and Safety Rating System to help you make the best choice.

GBAC STAR Facility Rating System

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) rating system, better known as the STAR Facility Accreditation program, is designed to help organizations establish a comprehensive plan for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. Successful completion of the program requires organizations to demonstrate they can prepare, respond, and recover from biological threats, such as the coronavirus.

To earn this accreditation, organizations must meet the 20 different criteria listed in the STAR Program Elements. Organizations that acquire this accreditation meet the gold-standard of cleanliness and safety in their industry. Furthermore, their staff has the knowledge and tools to provide a safe environment for employees and customers alike.

The GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation program is available for organizations across a list of industries — daycares, restaurants, hotels, schools, stadiums, doctor’s offices, etc.

Take the Readiness Assessment test to see how your business holds up or learn more about GBAC here.

WELL Health and Safety Rating System

The WELL Health and Safety rating system focuses on workplace well-being as opposed to strict infectious disease prevention. They take a holistic approach to health and safety by encompassing factors such as comfort and resiliency when developing an effective program.

To earn this rating, organizations must meet 15 out of the 21 possible criteria across five categories:

  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures
  • Health service resources
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Air and water quality management

Once certified, organizations must uphold the strict quality standards year after year to qualify for the rating system’s renewal.

Imperial Dade impacts the cleaning, sanitation, and hygiene portion of each rating system. Visit our website for a location near you.

How to Get Kids Back in School Safely & Healthier Than Ever

By Jameka Carter

As schools start to reopen, the health and safety of the children have become a top priority. Many schools are starting back up virtually, but plan to bring students back into buildings soon. However, parents are concerned about sending their children to school during a pandemic and want to know what changes will be made to ensure their safety. Teaching kids about healthy habits starts at home, but it doesn’t have to end there. Schools play an important role in educating students as well. By promoting good hygiene, providing hand washing programs and installing proper cleaning supplies, schools can educate and equip children for healthier habits.

Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care.

40% of parents worry their children will suffer from a lack of hygiene at school. Their parental concerns are based on their children’s experience. 86% of school children avoid using the toilets at school, and nearly half of all parents point to unhygienic conditions at the cause. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care. By insisting that school bathrooms and individual classrooms be properly cleaned and sufficiently supplied with soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, parents can allay their children’s fears, reduce health-related absenteeism, and create a more relaxed, confident and productive learning environment.

People are aware that handwashing is important, but they don’t make it a habit. It’s time to start teaching students how to wash their hands. Fortunately, teaching handwashing isn’t something schools need to take on alone. There are many programs to help educate children about hand hygiene, from Global Handwashing Day to handwashing programs pointed out by the Center for Disease Control.

Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Handwashing can reduce illnesses and keep kids in school. A recent study shows that kindergartners and first graders in the U.S. are chronically absent more than 10% of days within a school year. The report goes on to say that “students who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at a grade level by third grade – which makes them four times more likely to drop out of school.” When children are taught how to properly wash their hands, fewer illnesses will occur. Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Imperial Dade offers quality hand hygiene and restroom supplies from top manufactures including Essity, creators of this infographic available for download. Contact your Imperial Dade Representative today for a restroom site survey and product recommendations. Visit our website for a location near you.

Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 by Cleaning, Sanitizing, & Disinfecting Touchpoints & Other Surfaces

COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has been devastating countries worldwide. Its most common symptoms include dry cough, high fever, and shortness of breath. As of this posting, all 50 states have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and many states, especially Washington, New York, and California, have been hard hit by a high number of deaths due to the virus and its side effects, primarily pneumonia.

While many organizations are having people work from home, it is imperative to continue to maintain facilities and keep all frequent touchpoints clean and disinfected as much as possible. The cleaning supplies, chemicals, and equipment available at Imperial Dade are necessary now more than ever to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe and healthy.

Cleaning or Disinfecting? Know the Differences to Stay Healthy

When it comes to cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing surfaces, many people incorrectly believe that those terms and actions are interchangeable. While all three types of cleansing are effective and necessary, they have their specific uses and should not be treated as equally efficacious.

Cleaning

Cleaning is the first step to safe surfaces. It is, by definition, the removal of dirt, impurities, and some germs via soap and water or other surface cleaners. While cleaning surfaces with soap and water does reduce the number of germs on the surface and, thus, the risk of infection, remaining germs will continue to multiply.

Sanitizing

Another step for safer surfaces involves sanitizing. Sanitizing surfaces effectively reduces the number of harmful bacteria to safe levels according to most health standards and requirements. While sanitizing does kill approximately 99.99 percent of most types of bacteria, it does not kill or remove all viruses and fungi. In the current health climate, it is best to bypass surface sanitizers and head to the disinfectants after cleaning most surfaces.

DisinfectingAdobeStock_333403469

For the safest surfaces, use a disinfectant. Disinfecting surfaces involves using solutions that destroy or deactivate viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms after leaving the properly diluted solution on the surface for the stated dwell time, typically 10 minutes. Imperial Dade has many disinfecting solutions for commercial use, including Victoria Bay disinfectant sprays with EPA certifications and kill claims for emerging pathogens.

Common “Touchpoints” Requiring Cleaning & Disinfecting

As mentioned above, COVID-19 is a highly contagious and infectious disease, so surfaces used frequently by many people are considered high-risk touchpoints. The majority of individuals in the U.S. carrying COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning that they will not show symptoms but could still transmit the virus onto surfaces they have touched or on which their respiratory droplets (through coughing or sneezing) have landed.

Here are a few of the most common touch that should be disinfected in commercial and residential buildings:

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For more information regarding how to best prevent the spread of COVID-19, review Imperial Dade’s recent posts or contact your local branch today and ask to speak to a chemical specialist. Visit our website to find a location near you.

Safety Checklist: 6 Points of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

By Vickie Holland

Ask any employee and they will know that wearing gloves is the first line of protection in worker safety. But does everyone know that employee safety involves more than just wearing gloves?  Wearing the proper equipment minimizes exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers are also required to train each worker who is required to use personal protective equipment (commonly referred to as “PPE”) to know:

  • When it is necessary
  • What kind is necessary
  • How to properly put it on, adjust it, wear it and take it off
  • The limitations of the equipment
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of the equipment

All PPE should be comfortable to wear to encourage employee use. It should be safely designed, clean and well maintained. Here are 6 points of PPE that are designed to limit injury exposure to your employees.

  1. FACE PROTECTION

Goggles should always be worn, and workers should also consider face shields. This is true if working near stored chemicals, large mechanical equipment, mixing cleaning chemicals or similar hazards.

  1. HEARING PROTECTION

Hearing loss is becoming one of the most common occupational health hazards in a variety of industries, including professional cleaning. OSHA requires ear plugs/coverings to be worn if workers are exposed to “average” decibel exposure (about 85 decibels) for eight hours or longer.

  1. PROPER HAND PROTECTION

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), each year more than a million workers visit emergency rooms due to hand injuries. Of these workers, 70 percent weren’t wearing gloves or were not wearing the right glove. We can help workers select the proper hand protection for a variety of cleaning tasks.

  1. BACK SUPPORT

An estimated 20 percent of all workplace injuries are injuries to the back. Different types of back belts are available to address this problem. Studies indicate that installing posters advising workers on how to work without harming their backs can be very effective.

  1. FOOT PROTECTION

Many cleaning workers go to work without giving a second thought to the shoes they wear. This often leads to an accident. Work shoes and protective overshoes are available to protect workers from slipping, falling objects, even electrocution.

  1. BODY PROTECTION

The main purpose of wearing PPE for the body is protection from chemicals, heat, sparks, infectious material or other hazardous substances during work activities. Wearing the proper protection will reduce injuries and keep employees safe. Rips, tears or other defects should be reported to the supervisor immediately and not worn by employee.

For more information on PPE ask your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant or visit us at www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.  

5 Best Labor-Saving S.T.E.P.S

By: Vickie Holland

Labor costs can add up fast! Today’s organizations are continually searching for new and creative ways to save. Here are 5 Labor Saving S.T.E.P.S that will save you money and help increase your bottom line.

  1. SAFETY: All employees are entitled to a safe workplace. Personal protective equipment “PPE” should be included in all training programs to protect the employee from injuries. Risk exposure factors include lifting heavy items, bending, reaching, pushing and pulling, and performing repetitive tasks. Another great practice in protecting employees is investing in ergonomic equipment or tools. Some good examples are the Backpack Vac and Victoria Bay’s Bucketless Mop. These tools are designed to be more efficient by requiring fewer trips back and forth to refill chemicals and avoids bending, lifting and tripping hazards. Both are ergonomically engineered to minimize strain injuries that can occur with repeated use.
  2. TRAINING: Training reduces overall costs and improves performance. In addition to saving on hiring and on-boarding costs, training promotes consistency throughout the organization, leading to increases in efficiency and improved performance. Training provides an excellent path for your team to adopt new methods or technology. For example, are you using team or zone cleaning? Team cleaning is a more modern approach that allows the custodian to focus on one specific task (for example vacuuming or dusting). This strategy will save time and has proven easier to supervise.
  3. EQUIPMENT: When is the last time your company purchased new equipment? Newer equipment is designed to increase employee productivity by helping your team to work faster, smarter and safer. Having the right equipment for the job will maximize efficiencies, allow employees time for other projects and ultimately save on your labor costs.  One valuable and affordable investment is a micro-scrubber. Micro-scrubbers are smaller pieces of equipment designed to pick up more soil than a traditional mop bucket. Their smaller footprint reduces the risk of slips and fall injuries. These machines are easy to maneuver and can scrub small congested areas, increasing efficiency. We recommend the Windsor Micro-Scrubber or the Clarke Vantage Auto Scrubber.
  4. PROCUREMENT: Your purchasing habits can have a huge effect on your bottom line. Think about all the steps involved in procurement: taking inventory, placing an order, checking the order in on delivery, putting away the supplies, reconciling the packing slip and invoice, preparing and mailing payment. Limiting the number of orders placed will allow for more time to be spent on the things that add value; for example, cleaning, disinfecting or maintaining your facility. Also, having the correct item in stock when you need it is crucial. Wasting time sourcing product at the last minute is counter-productive, stressful and time consuming.
  5. SUSTAINING FLOORS: So much time and labor is spent finishing your floors to a dazzling shine and maintaining spotless carpets. Are you pulling out all the stops to sustain your efforts? Simple steps will keep your carpets and hard floors looking great. Our #1 recommendation is investing in entrance matting. Not only does matting help keep your workplace safe from slips, trips and falls, matting helps to keep dirt and moisture out of your building.  Another excellent way to keep your floors looking bright and glossy is to use chair protectors. Chair protectors protect floor surfaces from scratches and preserve floor finishes.

We can schedule a time to tour your facility and understand your cleaning challenges. Our expert Sales Consultants can recommend the best equipment, products, training programs, and procurement solutions based on your needs.

Visit our website for a location near you and contact us today!