Most people spend about 90% of their time indoors, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately, the air inside a building is typically two to five times, and sometimes more than 100 times, more polluted than outdoor air. Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) helps protect the health and wellness of building staff and occupants who spend hours per day in your facility. With a comprehensive green cleaning program, including environmentally responsible products and effective cleaning, facility managers can help provide consistently clean air.

Polluted Indoor Air Puts Building Occupants at Risk

Indoor air quality refers to the air quality inside and surrounding buildings. One significant cause of poor IAQ is the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – gases containing chemicals with potential adverse health effects. Common examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol and carbon tetrachloride. Concentrations of VOCs are up to ten times higher indoors than outside, making them a key factor in indoor air quality. VOCs can be released by certain cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, building materials, furniture, floor materials, paints and other common items.

Causes of unhealthy indoor air can also include dust, dirt and other pollutants that enter buildings from the outside and spread throughout the facility. Additionally, standing water from spills or leaks can host mold and microbes that can become airborne and impact IAQ.

Polluted indoor air can produce several negative health effects. When occupants are exposed to elevated levels of VOCs, they can experience headaches, irritated eyes and skin, breathing difficulties, nausea and fatigue. VOCs can also worsen symptoms of asthma and allergies. Exposure to VOCs can also reduce cognitive abilities like concentration and memory, with the U.S. EPA estimating that businesses can suffer a 2-4% performance loss from poor IAQ.

Green Cleaning for Fresh Indoor Air

A comprehensive green cleaning program can help facilities maintain a good IAQ. A green cleaning program typically consists of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals certified by third parties like Green Seal®, tools and equipment made from recycled materials and solutions that reduce water and plastic waste.One EPA study found that with an effective green cleaning program, airborne dust decreased by 52% and VOC concentrations decreased by 49%. Effective sustainable cleaning emits fewer VOCs into the air and keeps pollutants under control.

To start your sustainable cleaning program, a good starting point is switching to green cleaning chemicals. Check your cleaning and disinfecting solutions to see if they release a high concentration of VOCs. If your current cleaning and disinfecting solutions contain numerous toxic ingredients that emit several VOCs, they may be contributing to poor IAQ. Instead, opt for solutions with no or low VOC content, like those with UL GREENGUARD Gold certification for meeting rigorous standards to reduce indoor air pollution. Non-toxic green cleaning solutions with fewer ingredients will help keep indoor air free of pollutants.

Effective floor cleaning is also essential to maintaining IAQ. Every 1,000 people that visit your facility bring between one-quarter of a pound and three pounds of dirt into your building. These soils travel onto your floors, from which they can make their way into the air. Additionally, cleaning professionals need high-quality mops to ensure water is absorbed and doesn’t sit stagnant. Floor materials and finishes can also emit VOCs, so buildings need regular and effective floor maintenance to keep the surface dry and clean.

Sustainable Cleaning for Occupant Health and Wellness

For the visitors, occupants and staff that spend hours per day in your facility, the air quality can impact their health on a daily basis and in the long run. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, airborne spread of pathogens has become a prominent concern. With an effective, sustainable cleaning program, facility managers can support the maintenance of good indoor air quality by minimizing VOCs and removing pollutants.

For more information on starting a green cleaning program with sustainable tools, visit or contact us at (888) 694-2226 today.