The Health Effects of Improper Ventilation

Updated: Mar 8

Taking deep breaths is conducive to your health. For many factory and woodshop workers, however, it might not be as simple as that. How come? Their workplaces could actually be a health hazard for them if the ventilation system doesn't provide them with adequate and clean air every time they inhale.

So, let's take a closer look at the health effects that improper ventilation has on workers in factories or woodworking spaces.

Increased Risk of Cancer

Wood is one of the most common materials that can be found in any factory, and in the process of sanding or cutting it, particles can enter the air and form wood dust. It's imperative for factory workers, especially those in the woodworking industry, to avoid inhaling wood dust as much as possible.

As we've previously shared in our post on 'Wood Dust - Cancer & Other Health Effects', wood dust is a human carcinogen — in other words, it causes cancer. To reduce the risk of developing lung cancer or nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers, local exhaust ventilation like our Dust Collection Control System must be set in place to prevent workers from breathing in harmful wood dust. Installing dust collection technology is your best bet to eradicate hazardous elements in the air, which in turn will provide your employees with an improved and healthier workspace.

Exposure to Bacterial and Mold Growth

Poor indoor ventilation, when combined with low humidity, can cause dry skin, a dry throat, and static electricity. On the other hand, poor indoor ventilation with excessive humidity — the main cause of condensation — can promote the growth of bacteria and mold. Though a common problem in homes and restrooms, mold can also quickly grow in factories and workspace environments with high humidity and poor ventilation.

A post by HomeServe on How to get rid of mold points out that this increases the risk of allergic reactions, skin and eye irritation, as well as respiratory problems like asthma. Mold thrives in dark, warm, and poorly ventilated areas, which is why it's key to have proper ventilation in your factory or woodshop for fresh air to come inside.

Development of Sick Building Syndrome

If your employees are working in spaces with insufficient ventilation, they're at higher risk of developing 'sick building syndrome' (SBS). The Balance Small Business notes that those who suffer from this medical condition experience a variety of health problems, such as irritated eyes, nasal congestion, sore throat, dry skin, and headaches. Not to mention, their symptoms become more active when they're in their workspaces, which can cause SBS to spread even more. A proper and efficient ventilation system can keep SBS at bay because it will provide workers with enough fresh air to breathe while ensuring that heat levels aren't harsh on their bodies.

Decreased Cognitive Function

Apart from the health consequences that improper ventilation has on a person's physical health, it can also negatively impact one's cognitive functions. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a study found that workers exposed to poor indoor air quality had much lower cognitive performance scores compared to those who worked in greener environments. In fact, the findings showed that the latter's score was 61% higher. Proper ventilation can make all the difference for both the health and performance of your workers, as it can decrease the carbon dioxide levels that harm your workers' cognition and, in turn, lessen risks of accidents or mistakes.

Guest Author: Eugenia Hoffman

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