Perceived indoor air quality and psychosocial work environment in office, school and health care environments in Finland

Katja Tähtinen, Jouko Remes, Kirsi Karvala, Marjaana Lahtinen, Kari Reijula

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Abstract

Objectives: The study examined the extent and prevalence of perceived indoor environment-related (IE-related) symptoms environmental complaints and psychosocial work environmental factors in Finnish office, school and health care environments. Material and Methods: The data were collected from non-industrial workplaces (N = 455) in 2011–2012 and 2015–2017 using the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s Indoor Air Questionnaire (IA Questionnaire). Suspicion of IE-related problems was reported in 59% of workplaces. The data consisted of 28 826 employees’ responses. Results: The employees reported symptoms and environmental discomfort in office environments less often than in school or health care environments. The most often reported IE-related complaints were stuffy air (39% of respondents), dry air (34%) and insufficient ventilation (33%). The most often reported symptoms were irritation of the nose (27% of respondents), irritation of the eyes (26%), and hoarse or dry throat (24%). The results showed differences between the perceived IE in office, school and health care environments. Conclusions: Compared to earlier findings, the most often perceived IE-related symptoms and complaints have increased in Finnish health care environments. The office employees’ perceptions of psychosocial work environment remained fairly unchanged whereas health care personnel more often assessed their psychosocial environment as positive compared to previous reports. Instead of exact reference values, comparing the results of IA Questionnaires with the distributions and mean values of the results of this study may be more informative for those striving to solve IE-related problems. The presented distribution and mean values of perceived symptoms, environmental complaints and psychosocial work environment might help to relate the results to other workplaces. This, in turn, might increase the understanding that IA Questionnaire results are influenced by many factors. The results presented can be used as new reference material when interpreting the results of IA Questionnaires in office, school and health care environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-495
JournalINTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Indoor Air Questionnaire
  • school
  • health care
  • perceived indoor environment
  • reference material
  • office

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