Problems related to the indoor climate are seldom the result of one cause, but often result from a combination of several factors.
How a person reacts to an indoor climate is a very individual matter. In premises with indoor climate problems, people who are highly sensitive may react more strongly than most people, and at the same time they may develop symptoms at lower exposures. In Norway, about one-fourth of the population is subject to hypersensitivity and allergies.
Factors affecting the indoor climate in office environments
High temperatures increase the vaporization of materials, which leads to an increased pollution of indoor air. Reaction to pollutants increases at high temperatures when they directly affect mucus membranes. High temperatures cause sleepiness and have a negative effect on a person’s ability to work.
Low temperatures and draughts result in discomfort and increase the risk of illness in the musculoskeletal apparatus.
Drafts may be caused by the introduction of air at high speed from a ventilation facility. Air that has been chilled by contact with a cold surface and flows downwards may feel like a draft since we are more sensitive to air movement at lower temperatures.
- Relative humidity
A feeling that the air is dry is rarely caused by low humidity; usually it is the result of high temperature combined with the presence of air pollutants that irritate skin and mucus membranes.
- Air pollutants
Indoor air pollutants in office environments come from paper, books, people, outdoor air pollution, vaporization of building materials or fixtures, copy machines, printers etc. The air quality is dependent on the extent of the polluting sources, and how effective ventilation and cleaning are in removing the pollutants.
Noticeable odours are an indication of the presence of chemical substances in the form of gasses or vapours. We react very differently to odours. Discomfort in connection with odours can be due to reflexes such as nausea or may be a direct reaction to the pollutant.
- Noise, light and aesthetic conditions
Noise, light and aesthetic conditions should also be taken into consideration in order to obtain a complete picture of the indoor environment.
What can you do to help?
- Keep your office in good order.
- Avoid too high temperatures in the office – it is recommended that the temperature during winter should not exceed 22°C. Find out how to adjust the temperature and then do so.
- Remove objects from the floor to allow cleaners easier access. Avoid having too much furniture.
- Keep as few objects as possible that tend to collect dust.
- Use cabinets and drawers rather than shelves for storage in as far as this is possible.
- Avoid covering ventilation inlets/outlets in the office, e.g. those found in the window frame.
- Ensure regular, periodical airing of the room, and take short breaks outside if possible.
- Actively use sunscreens such as venetian blinds and awnings during the summer and before the sun shines on the window.
- Dust PC screens, shelves and other surfaces from time to time.