Air quality is affected by toxins, some of which are human-made and others which result from environmental conditions. Bad air can be caused by a variety of pollutants in the workplace, such as:
- Toxic cleaning solvents;
- Formaldehyde in particle board, plywood, furniture and carpets;
- Benzene in synthetic fibers, plastics and cleaning supplies;
- Mercury and lead in paint;
- Dust, pollen, and mold; and
- Tobacco smoke
Indoor air quality is regulated by both federal and state laws, as poor air quality in the workplace can lead to lifelong lung conditions such as emphysema. State provisions reflect federal policies, many of which are monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The following are examples of state legislation relating to clean air:
- The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in the workplace; and
- The Indoor Air Quality Program, created under the California Health and Safety Code, to control indoor pollution.
Alerting your employer to the situation should be your first step in combating the air problem. Bad indoor air quality leads many employees to take sick time, which eventually results in decreased productivity. An unhealthy and unsafe work environment can be exceedingly costly for an employer.
If your workplace conditions persist and you require medical care, you may be eligible for workers compensation. In addition to talking with an employment lawyer about your workplace concerns, you should consider reporting air quality issues to OSHA and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
An employment attorney can inform you of your health and safety rights in the workplace. She can also offer you advice and represent you in court if you choose to file a lawsuit against your employer for violating clean air standards.