Businesses every year get hit with claims of “bad indoor air quality” by employees (and sometimes by their lawyers) who typically point toward mold — a stubborn and expensive problem — as the source. Usually, however, it’s something a lot simpler and easier to take care of.
A story in the Hartford Courant illustrates that the trend toward citing mold — and employees’ insisting on its detection and removal — might be overstated, because the real problem might be plain, ol’ dust: the tiny particles of fiber, skin scales, insect parts, pollen, cobwebs and dirt that settle on surfaces everywhere.
(In the past 14 months, one investigator with the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration looked at 20 complaints filed by people who thought that mold was compromising the air quality in their workplaces. Of hundreds of samples he collected, only one had mold levels that were considered significant.)
Why dust? Why now? It could arise from a combination of factors.
The typical hot weather in much of the United States had led to conditions conducive to the accumulation of dust. On top of that, cash-strapped companies — or their lease-holders — have cut back on the extent and frequency of custodial services, leaving workers exposed to layers of dust.
The lesson: If you’re getting a lot of complaints about indoor air quality, consider a good, old-fashioned cleaning as the remedy.