10 Air Quality Concerns in Office Buildings

Over the last years, air quality interest has grown significantly – particularly during COVID pandemic.  This awareness has also increased the demand for measuring air quality in indoor environments where people spend most time, such as office buildings.

There are different indoor air pollutants that can affect your indoor space and typically they are biological (bacteria, viruses, etc.), chemical (gases and vapors emitted by products used within the building), or particle (non-biological substances suspended in the air). [1]

Considering that many factors can influence the air you breathe, here is a list of the top  10 most common indoor air quality concerns in office and commercial buildings:

  1. High Occupant Density
    The level of CO2, infection spread and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can increase significantly in overcrowded areas, like meeting and conference rooms, lunch areas and lobbies.
  2. Printers and other equipment
    Office equipment, such as copiers and printers, generate emissions of Ozone and VOCs.
  3. New furniture, wall and floor coverings
    Wallboard, furniture, carpets and other building materials may emit chemicals in indoor environments.
  4. Kitchen / Breakroom
    Cooking is a major source of Particulate Matter (PM) and VOCs in buildings.
  5. Adhesive, paints, solvents, cleaning products
    Many chemical products used during renovation or building maintenance, like paints or cleaners, create airborne contaminants.
  6. Moisture from water leaks and high humidity
    Microbes from moisture can affect the health of workers who might develop allergies, ashma and other respiratory issues. Sources of moisture in buildings include: plumbing; roof and window leaks; flooding; condensation on cold surfaces; wet foundations.
  7. Outdoor air pollutants
    Common pollution sources include nearby highways, power plants, refineries, heavy industry, and even wildfire smoke.
  8. Air cleaners
    While counter to their purpose, some types of air cleaners can generate Ozone. 
  9. Vehicle emissions from underground garages
    Vehicles in parking garages are a common source of CO gas emission.
  10. Smoking areas
    Tobacco smoke can be a significant concern for many buildings, even if the smoking area is located outside near the entrance.


How can you mitigate some of these risks for air quality inside your building?

OSHA and other institutions give recommendations on how to improve indoor air quality in office buildings including different actions that both employers and employees can take in the workplace.[2]

Employers in particular can:

  • Avoid products that can cause IAQ issues and integrate office IAQ concerns into purchasing decisions
  • Define the layout of office equipment and furniture considering adequate air circulation, temperature, HVAC system
  • Collaborate with building management on various indoor environmental topics, including operation and maintenance of ventilation system, use of non-chemical products (when possible), renovation works, solutions to continuously monitor indoor air quality, for instance with AirAssure™ Indoor Air Quality Monitors


Learn more on TSI AirAssure™ Indoor Air Quality Monitor