In an article written by Karina Foo of theStar online:
Most likely you will have breathed in tens of thousands of bits of particulate matter by the time you finish reading this sentence.
Particulate matter is made up of microscopic bits of solid or liquid material largely invisible to the human eye.
This is especially problematic if you have any respiratory conditions as the particles you breathe in make you cough, have the sniffles or a runny nose (nasal allergies) frequently.
Common and ubiquitous, but usually unseen, the air particles breathed in include dust, dust mites, skin flakes, pet dander, human air, smoke and other pollutants.
Many might find it unnerving to learn they breathing in contaminants with each breath and not realising it until they are sick.
But even when that happens, we attribute it to stress, lack of sleep and just bad luck.
If you own a company or work in the organisation, you may be affected by this in some way or another. According to the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 20% of all employees have a major illness related to indoor air pollution such as allergies, asthma, auto immune diseases.
Bad air is bad business
It is about time that employers clean up their act and help their employees stay healthier.
That’s the blunt message from Brent Simon, a self-proclaimed clean-air evangelist and managing director of premium air purifier company, Alen Corp Asia.
He understands the financial burdens that many employers and business owners endure when it comes to forking out payments for medical claims and pay-outs.
“Being sick may lead a cascade of adverse effects for the entire business.
“If a company has one employee who is sick, his condition could spread to others and this contagion will affect more people,” he explains.
It also decreases productivity and curtails the overall performance of a business, leading to an impact on the bottomline.
While these repercussions sound drastic, Brent said it is happening worldwide and the reason people are falling ill and feeling lethargic at work is the silent culprit of poor quality air they breathe in.
Without trying to sound too scientific, Simon says World Health Organisation guidelines state that PM10 particles (particles are of 10 micrometres or less) can penetrate the lungs and may enter the bloodstream.
This can cause heart diseases, lung cancer, asthma and acute lower respiratory infections.
The drastic ramifications are death and the WHO estimates that more than two million people die every year from breathing in these tiny killers.
“The WHO air-quality guidelines are about 30,000 to 60,000 particles per cubic metre of air as an annual average but recent data released shows that the average is 300,000 air particles per cubic metre of air,” he said.
Malaysia and Singapore’s average daily indoor particle count falls within that dangerous category of 350,000 to 450,000 and that is worse than the acceptable levels under WHO guidelines.