Of course there is no perfect way to create a 100% perfect breathing environment. However, venues that are located in older buildings must understand that they most likely have compromised air quality for a variety of reasons. There are in-expensive ways to improve the air quality of your building for those who occupy it on a short and long term basis.
Many venues do not have their basic WHIMIS Certification Training for their staff, nor do they have any training in how to create a safe breathing environment for those with asthma and allergies. Asthma sufferers will usually feel attack symptoms coming on or un-well in a poor breathing environment and will leave the venue or attempt to grit through the pain and remain in the building to the damage of their health. It does not need to be this way, and there are easy preventable practices and policies you can implement.
1. Purchase a Plug-In Air Purifier (Costs $100) or less per room, Air Conditioner, or install a Central Air System. Wait till there is a sale and jump on it. The best option out of all of these is a Central Air system, however if these systems are not cleaned often, and you do not have an actual written schedule to inspect, clean, and replace the filters they will do more harm then good. It is not a matter of simply one and done, installing them and thinking you will have clean air forever.
2. Purchase a fan, and leave a window or door open (in non-winter months) to circulate the air at least once a day for 1 hour. This is only if an air purifier or air conditioning system is out of your budget. Keep in mind however, that you will be bringing partials, carcinogens, dust, mold and other environmental pollutants into the space, so you are not necessary bringing in clean air. For buildings that have no way to replenish the room with purified air this is a practice that can not be missed.
3. Dust at least once a week. This includes disinfecting fans, lights, air purifiers, ceilings, closets, and storage spaces. These areas can be some of the top places where dust and allergens can be found. Ceilings can have a large amount of dust due to lights and air flow within the space that can be trapped and un-seen, becoming the perfect breeding ground for super bugs, and black mold.
4.Use natural cleaners like vinegar/ baking soda/ lemon combination water to dis-infect areas. Stay away from heavy duty chemicals especially if there is no air filters, air circulation, or ways to open up a window or door when cleaning. Heavy duty chemicals that are not rinsed with water well from surfaces they have cleaned can linger and cause allergic reactions to those who come into contact with them. They can also cause someone with asthma to have an attack, due to environmental air attacks. There is no need to use these chemicals unless you suspect a bio-hazard spill or leak, and even-then chemicals are often in-correctly used or over used to clean spaces out of fear of contagious diseases spreading. Having a cleaning schedule and following WHMIS guidelines for proper chemical management is critical.
5. Avoid cleaning and spraying areas where performers will be performing or resting at least 1 hour before they are present in your facility. Most importantly ensure the air has been purified as well by using air purifiers before and after the space is being used.
6. Have a no scent policy at your venue and advertise that. Place signs all over venue, and on your website, and even on to the tickets themselves if possible in small writting. No you will not be able to prevent all heavy scented human's from entering, but it will deter alot of potential issues. 1 heavy scented audience members in a small cramped area is alot better than 20 or more, get my drift? There should be a zero tolerance policy for staff regardless if any of them have known asthma.
7. Avoid the use of incense, candles, essential oils, and automatic spray air purifiers as these are carcinogenic. These are especially dangerous for someone who has an attack alone in a bathroom where they could fall onto tiles or a toilet. These products in general are not good for our health even if they are made out of natural products, as the act of burning or heating a scent can cloud the air with invisible smoke which can trigger in attack in minutes for someone with sever asthma.
8. Clean your facility often. This means washing the walls and the ceiling as well as surfaces people may come into contact with such as chairs. Many venues will clean the bar area, and surface of tables, sweep and mop floors, as well as clean bathrooms and offices. Very rarely do they take the extra step of ensuring their stairwells, elevators, and fire escapes are cleaned. Most times it is because they do not think this is an important issue for them to be concerned about because of budgetary constraints for cleaning staff. How often your space should be cleaned does differ depending on its uses, and how often the space is used, but generally speaking, it should be deep cleaned once a month minimum.
9. Shampoo Cloth Furniture, Drapes, and any other hanging material in your venue. Unfortunately cloth material, especially older material has a nasty ability to absorb environmental pollutants regardless if you see a visible stain, or whether or not the furniture smells. Carpets can be some of the worst for this. Ensuring these materials are cleaned weekly or monthly at the minimum when being heavily used is important.
Out of all the 8 tips listed above, tip 1, 4, and 5 are some of your best preventative practices that you can take advantage of regardless of your budgetary constraints. Asthma sufferers are often isolated from social events simply because they cannot risk the breathing environment they may be exposed to. Even if an asthma suffer takes great care and control over their health, environmental pollutants may be to much for them.
For more information on how to create a better breathing environement at your venue and how to develop a "CLEAN AIR- SAFER SPACES POLICY" please visit the following links: