Indoor Air Quality and Risk of Virus Spreading Industry Code of Practice 2010 DOSH

Indoor Air Quality and Risk of Virus Spreading Industry Code of Practice 2010 DOSH

Indoor Air Quality and Risk of Virus Spreading Industry Code of Practice 2010 DOSH

The indoor environment has been a growing focus for environmental and public health professionals including occupational safety and health professionals. Due to the implementation of the current Code of Practice in Malaysia in 2010, many employers and building managers have taken a positive response towards determining, monitoring, and quantifying the risk of indoor air pollutants existing in their premises or buildings.

In a tropical climate country like Malaysia, industrial hygienists and indoor air quality assessors have been extensively involved in indoor air quality (IAQ) diagnosis and remediation in occupational environments for the past 5 years. Professionals in air pollution, ventilation, engineering, microbiology, architecture, and other fields are called upon to respond to resolve IAQ problems.

No matter how extensive or bad the situation of the indoor environment that negatively influences the health condition of the occupants is, a multidisciplinary approach from skilled professionals with knowledge on the maintenance, construction, ventilation system, and sources of biological or chemical contaminants and their potential health effects, together with the perception of the building occupants, IAQ guidelines, standards, and Codes of Practice, should be able to address the problems.

Indoor Air Quality and Risk of Virus Spreading Industry Code of Practice 2010 DOSH

The development of Malaysia has led to the major construction of buildings, which fully depend on air conditioning systems to control the perceived environmental factors related to thermal comfort; however, certain other parameters have frequently been neglected by the building owner until a problem strikes.

A lack of information regarding the influence of gender differences, chemicals, and physical indoor pollutants that can influence health symptoms of Malaysians has presented scientists with a challenge to identify and mitigate the IAQ issues before they become catastrophic. Therefore, an extensive study regarding these issues should be conducted to provide indoor air scientists and the indoor air industry with information concerning the effects of pollutants and their relationship with common indoor air symptoms.

IAQ is one of the big issues being addressed in Malaysia. Concerns about health have led workers (nonindustrial) to participate in most of the activities concerning awareness of health-related issues in the workplace. Good IAQ is desired by most workers and visitors, especially in public offices such as government offices.

The current Code of Practice has been updated and focuses on eleven main parameters that are suspected of influencing pollution of the indoor air environment. Previous studies suggest that a checklist is one of the preliminary tools needed to evaluate the condition of the indoor environment in the workplace. Hitherto, scientists have suggested that ventilation influences most of the indoor environmental issues in tropical climates, which are most likely related to the high number of cases of sick building syndrome being reported after exposure to poor ventilation and also thermal comfort issues.

In addition, the indoor environment is considered by most engineers to be challenging because of the need to design in the tight space above the ceiling to ensure sufficient fresh air and efficient ventilation that is able to provide a sufficient level of comfort and dilute pollutants that have already been introduced from air handling units.

Working in a healthy environment is important to the individual as the environment, especially indoors, is perceived through individual appraisal., Some mediating factors between the work environment and physiological reactions and the individual’s perception are related to the process of establishing an individual appraisal of environmental functions. Various negative effects on health can be caused by a combination of mental factors including low job control, low job support, and high demand or workload. Serious health problems – anxiety, mental distress, high rate of absence, multiple sickness, high mortality rate, and high turnover – can occur due to multifactorial problems related to working indoors.

Recently, there has been an interest in multidisciplinary research to identify health problems related to the indoor environment. Nonspecific symptoms that affect the skin, eyes, nose, and throat and nervous symptoms such as headache, dizziness, tiredness, and feeling heavy-headed have been previously reported as being due to poor IAQ in the workplace. Collectively, these have been termed as the sick building syndrome.,

Exposure to various indoor air pollutants has been suggested as being the cause of such symptoms. These include dampness, inconsistency of temperature and thermal comfort issues,,, and indoor particle pollutants. In addition, other factors that significantly influence the symptoms reported among occupants include chemical dispersion and chemical reaction indoors, thermal condition (which involves the temperature and relative humidity [RH] in the workplace), ventilation rate issues, ergonomic issues (eg, video terminal display), working with the photocopier, environmental tobacco smoke, total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), formaldehyde, material containing aldehydes, and combustion products.

Many researchers suggest that indoor environmental problems seem to be multifactorial, which are probably caused by mental stress at work,,,, the psychosocial work environment, and the relationship between physical and mental factors. Gender differences in reporting indoor air-related symptoms has been debated but discussion pertaining to tropical climate regions is lacking. Many four-season countries have conducted numerous studies that focused on observing subjective health symptoms. Population and general studies in other countries also show similar results relating to gender differences as well as organ-specific symptoms from exposure to the indoor environment., Previous clinical studies of airway symptoms, airway caliber, bronchial hyperreactivity, and factors such as hormonal fluctuations suggest possible causes of gender differences. However, scientists are still unable to identify the real causes of these differences, thus several studies have suggested certain elements and factors that need to be considered when studying gender differences in indoor air symptoms.

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