Facility Dude

Allergy control is nothing to sneeze at in your facility

By Kate Donnelly
Aug 17, 2015

Facilities Management

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Allergy control is nothing to sneeze at in your facility Summer is the time of year for pollen, cut grass, pet dander and dust. In other words, it's a time of year when allergens are at an all-time high, which can significantly impact your tenants' experience when they come into work.

It's hard to be productive when you're constantly wrestling against your own itchy eyes and persistent sneeze. Managing allergens in your building isn't a nice-to-have - it should be an integral part of your building maintenance operations and help you maximize your company's productivity. Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can reduce allergic reactions and discomfort as much as possible.

Take complaints seriously

Most facility managers have likely had their fair share of complaints about one aspect of building operation or another, whether it's climate control issues or reports of allergens in the air. If you want to keep your tenants' allergies under control, you should take these complaints seriously. FMLink noted the phenomenon referred to as "sick building syndrome," a broad generalized condition whereby a building's occupants can find themselves "allergic to the building."

SBS can be caused by any number of things, from airborne pollutants to mold, but in all cases the causes should be sought out and eliminated. The source indicated that 42 percent of allergy sufferers take time off work because of SBS-related issues, and 14 percent missed between four and 10 days of work.

Pay attention to your HVAC system

By far the most important piece of equipment in your facility when it comes to managing the spread of allergens is your HVAC infrastructure, particularly your air filters. When you're assessing your building's filters, the primary statistic you want to keep in mind is the filter's minimum efficiency rating value, or MERV. This is the standard measure by which filters are rated based on how effectively they eliminate allergens from the air. For most commercial buildings, FacilitiesNet recommended a filter with a MERV rating no lower than 15, which is a high-efficiency filter.

Filters can use any one of four different primary methods of trapping airborne impurities. To choose the best filter for your facility, you should first conduct an analysis to determine the primary type of allergen present in your building. Knowing whether your chief concern is temperature and humidity levels, surface particles, airborne particles or dust allergens can impact your purchasing decisions greatly.

Don't forget about mold

Mold is a serious issue that can not only be costly to eliminate, but can also pose a health hazard to a building's occupants. If you receive several complaints of poor air quality from the same part of your facility, you may very well have a mold problem.

Inspect the facility to locate any areas where water may have collected, such as leaky pipes or poorly draining roof water that has seeped down the walls, as these are all prime hotspots for mold to grow. Any infestations found should be addressed by a professional mold removal company immediately before more serious health hazards develop.

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