Guest Post by Dave Rajczak –
Whether you work in an auto body shop or a dental office, as a result of daily operations you are continuously exposed to various levels of bio-aerosols and other toxins. However, within a body shop, the customer is not usually part of daily operations and remains separate from the production environment and hazardous materials.
The dental office is unique in that both the dental team and their patients share the same air and are exposed to the same hazardous materials during service hours.
Dental offices in fact have the potential to be more polluted than most industries because they have high traffic areas that produce bio-aerosols (containing bacteria and viruses) resulting from dental procedures and the constant cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and dental instruments. It has become clear with more research over the years that untreated, these contaminants are absorbed into the bloodstream and have systemic effects on humans such as increased risk of infectious disease transfer, breathing difficulty including asthma, decreased lung function and heart problems.
Aside from the health aspects, from a legal perspective, the Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that all employers including dentists have a general duty to protect workers (and in this case also patients) by providing adequate ventilation and replacement air free from contamination.
How does one know if an air quality problem exists?
Most potentially harmful particulates cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore it is difficult to know their level of presence and corresponding risk to health. It is perhaps helpful to use a simple analogy and think of the work environment as a swimming pool. If the swimming pool turns green we automatically know it is likely unhealthy to swim in it and for health and aesthetic reasons we sanitize the water and run it through a filtration system until it is clear. Although we can never completely rid the water of every single contaminant due the constant addition of new agents, with continuous filtration we know that the water will be safe and pleasing to swim in.
Measuring a working environment for potentially harmful toxin levels
By using a Particle Counter device (example) that takes in a specific sized sample of air and counts the number of particles of various sizes we can “see” the quality of the air and compare it to the acceptable levels determined for the intended use of the room or environment.
For levels that are deemed unusually high, the simple and most practical solution is a medical grade air cleaner (example) that will remove the vast majority of dangerous particulate matter from the air. This breaks the cycle of airborne disease transmission, which may lead to infection and/or other symptoms previously mentioned.
Tangible benefits of cleaning the air
Practices that have implemented air purification systems reported reduced staff absenteeism and improved performance. By installing such systems in their offices, practice owners are not only complying with the law – their staff and patients also notice the cleaner air.
An investment in a safe and healthy environment will help protect everyone that enters your office and may even influence patients to refer their family and friends!