A new study reports that human breathing is the major source of indoor air pollution.
People often associate air pollution with outdoor air, but most of us don’t spend all that much time there. Instead, we’re enclosed in a home or office for most of our time. And that actually could be a problem.
“If we want to provide better air quality for office workers to improve their productivity, it is important to first understand what’s in the air and what factors influence the emissions and removal of pollutants. (1)
“Our preliminary results suggest that people are the dominant source of volatile organic compounds in a modern office environment,” he notes.
“We found levels of many compounds to be 10 to 20 times higher indoors than outdoors. If an office space is not properly ventilated, these volatile compounds may adversely affect worker health and productivity,” adds Boor.
Two of the top volatile compounds identified are
- Isoprene, a flammable substance present in essential oils and which is found in the breath of office workers; and
- Ozone. Ozone can interact with things like orange peels to become more harmful. Ozone interacts with monoterpenes which are found in the peels of citrus fruit, which are brought into the office with bag lunches.
While the reports talk about ozone coming from outside into the office, those of us who have worked in the tech industry know that laser printers also emit ozone. Newer models are said to emit much less than older printers.
We also know that spider plants and select other greenery can act to filter office air. These should become mandatory decor in enclosed environments.
Finally, there is a report of a new type of air filter that is able to eliminate bacteria from home or office air.(3) Watch for new products with graphene filters.
- Maria Cohut, “Human breath may significantly affect office air quality,” Medical News Today, 9 October 2019
- James McIntosh, “The dangers of working in an office,” Medical News Today, 30 April 2015,
- Catharine Paddock, “Graphene air filter traps and kills bacteria,” Medical News Today, 9 October 2019,