Farms, bakeries, and textile factories are work environments that are not so friendly with the lungs. But just because you work in a neat little corner with a computer, doesn’t mean that your lungs are safe. Lung health is dependent on the quality of the air you breath, but you may be surprised at how the most innocuous things can have a detrimental effect on your health.
In fact, did you know that even traditional office spaces with cubicles and carpets can make your asthma worse?
Well, mostly, it’s because there are many sources of indoor air pollution in your office. Office furnishings are a rich source of pollutants. Many of the things you will find in the office are exceptionally good at trapping particulates and other pollutants that can greatly worsen the quality of the air you breath.
They serve many purposes: absorb noise, define space, and blanket the cold floor. However, it’s a notorious source of VOC and formaldehyde—two things that can trigger asthma attacks or asthma-like symptoms.
They are another source of VOCs, including acetone or methyl ethyl ketone, which are also known to cause eye irritation and affect the nervous system.
You might like the smell of freshly printed paper, but electronics like laser printers and copiers are also sources of indoor air pollution. In a 2012 study, researchers concluded that “laser printers and photocopiers could be a relevant source of fine particles and particularly UFP (ultrafine particles) in office rooms.” These particles can get deep into the lungs and can aggravate asthma.
It’s true that the nature of your job can worsen your asthma. But whether you work in a textile factory or in a posh office at the 32nd floor, you are always surrounded by chemicals and allergens that can trigger an asthma attack. The important thing to remember is that you are aware of your work environment, so you can take control. Knowing the air you breathe by having an air quality monitor can help you on that task.
While you may not be able to renovate the entire office’s ventilation system, there are some things that you can do:
- Pick or request for an office space away from the printing area.
- Place an indoor plant, as it helps absorb some toxins like formaldehyde.
- Use a microfiber cloth to clean your workspace.
Lastly, make sure to take frequent breaks. Work-related stress can also trigger asthma.