In the Workplace, Controlling Dust Is a Must
Keeping dust under control in the workplace helps create a cleaner, safer and healthier environment for employees and customers. But it’s important to use the right equipment and techniques.
Certainly, a business’s reputation will suffer if it has giant dust bunnies multiplying in the corners of the room. But less visible airborne dust can also be a problem because dust harbors allergens and pathogens such as dust mites, fungal molds and fiber particles. Employees who are inside the building for hours at a time, for example, may suffer allergic or respiratory reactions, which could result in unscheduled absences. Even a customer who is browsing for just a few minutes but who has heightened sensitivities to dust may feel compelled to leave—and may not come back.
In its April 2003 publication “Airborne Allergens: Something in the Air,” the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said dust mites are perhaps the most common cause of perennial allergic rhinitis. (Dust allergies are considered perennial because dust mites thrive in the summer and tend to die in the winter. But a hot or humid interior acts as a breeding ground for dust mites even in colder months.)
Allergic rhinitis is estimated to affect approximately 60 million people in the United States, and its prevalence is increasing, according to statistics published on the website of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Symptoms include sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, stuffy ears and respiratory problems.
On its website, the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSAA) states that approximately 70% of dust inside a building is brought in from the outdoors. Floor mats placed inside entrances can capture 70% of this debris, according to TRSAA, which prevents dirt and dust from being tracked farther inside the building.
Of course, this means floor mats can get very dirty very quickly and therefore must be cleaned regularly. In addition to presenting a neater appearance, a clean mat will pick up dirt better than a dirty one.
Vacuuming floor mats is only minimally effective. According to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Water is often the secret to effective dust removal.” The institute recommends cleaning washable mats with water hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, as lower temperatures will not kill dust mites.
Other benefits of entry floor mats: They can protect floors in high-traffic areas and can prevent slips. Mats made with Nitrile rubber backings are generally considered the most durable. Many mats have a built-in static dissipative feature to protect against harmful static electricity.
No matter how well-made or well-placed your floor mats are, some dirt and dust will get tracked onto the floor. To remove this debris, dry mops are more effective than brooms, which can scratch floors and often just push dust around or up into the air. Dry mops, usually made of soft fibers such as cotton, pick up and hold dust. Dry mops can also be used on walls, ceilings and other flat surfaces.
Don’t stop there. Again, water is the key. Use a wet mop to scrub away any lingering dirt or grime that the dry mop can’t pick up.
Finally, launder dry mops and wet mops in accordance with the product’s care instructions.
U-NEED-IT.com sells a variety of dust control products, including floor mats, dry mops, wet mops and mop buckets.