Restaurants: Why clean air is so important.

Air pollution has been declared a national health emergency and as public awareness continues to grow, the restaurant industry is one that can significantly benefit from tackling the issue. This is particularly relevant for high-end restaurants where a visit is more than just a meal; it’s an experience.

Unbeknown to many, indoor air is on average two to five times more polluted than outdoor air and the busy restaurant can be a prime example of such conditions. As a restaurant owner there are a variety of reasons to improve the indoor air quality of your premises.

Restaurant worker, respiratory problems?

Restaurant workers – in particular chefs, experience regular exposure to smoke and fumes produced during cooking that poses a range of health risks. Worryingly, a strong correlation between cooking fumes and lung cancer has been reported in almost all research to date. Various methods of cooking have been shown to release carcinogenic substances such as formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, amines and benzine. All types of frying in particular release harmful levels of particulate matter, most notably deep frying.

In one particular study, restaurant workers were shown to occupy at least twice as many symptoms of chronic respiratory problems than non-restaurant workers. These symptoms ranged from coughs and wheeziness to dyspnea and ‘severe dyspnea’, which itself is a common symptom of lung and heart disease. A range of factors contribute to such symptoms including size of restaurant, location of kitchen, hours of stay in the kitchen, types of cooking oil and number of fry dishes prepared.

Taste of food

Air pollution has been proven to affect how we taste food. A range of pollutants are known to immediately impact our respiratory functions including our sense of smell, which subsequently alters our ability to taste. Cleaning the air in your restaurant will help protect the flavours in your food.

Allergens

With a range of foods being cooked and prepared in the kitchen, customers with severe food allergies can be at risk of exposure to airborne allergens. In addition, approximately 50% of the UK population suffer from allergies such as hay fever and cleaning the air of your restaurant can create a welcome escape from airborne triggers.

Virus & bacteria

The regular flow of customers in any restaurant will provide a high level of threat from exposure to virus and infection. The average UK employee costs their employer an incredible £600 per year in sick pay and efficiently cleaning indoor air is proven to reduce sick days by over 50%.

Traffic pollution

Many restaurants are situated in busy cities and high streets, providing regular exposure to high levels of toxic traffic pollution. Particulate matter (PM2.5) from vehicles are some of the most harmful pollutants and they easily make their way inside and become trapped; a big part of the reason indoor air quality is worse than outdoor.

Cleaning methods

Regular cleaning of tables is inevitably a crucial part of running a restaurant. After all, there’s nothing worse as a customer than sitting at a table covered in remnants of meals gone by. However, air quality monitoring in buildings regularly demonstrates a spike in air pollution after cleaning methods have taken place. Most common cleaning products contain a range of chemicals and constant cleaning of tables can create bioaerosols that can contaminate both food and air.

Join our ‘Airnitiative’

At Airnitiative we are supporters of the We Share Clean Air program and ambassadors for Radic8 technology – the world’s highest certified clean air technology. The technology is the only of its kind that catches and neutralises all known pollutants including cooking fumes, allergens, traffic pollution, virus and bacteria. Oh, and we can also help you master cleaning those tables pollution-free in one simple step.

You can find us at www.airnitiative.co.uk or catch us on 0203 488 1204

Investing in clean air technology for the workplace can save your company money.

Investing in clean air technology for the workplace may appear to be a luxury addition, but the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, its impact on employee productivity and sickness is so significant that it will actually save your company money. The evidence is unambiguous and research shows that a widespread improvement in indoor air quality for the workplace has the potential to save entire industries millions of pounds every single year.

Employee productivity.
Let’s begin with employee productivity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been reporting on the adverse affects poor indoor air has on employees and businesses for over 30 years, and their latest statistics portray that improving air quality can provide companies with an average employee productivity increase of 16%. However, this estimated figure has continued to rise as research has developed and is actually somewhat conservative in comparison to some alternative and equally credible findings.

Standard office air makes you dumber.
Take the research by Dr Joseph Allen and colleagues at the prestigious University of Harvard that, put simply, demonstrated how standard office air makes workers significantly dumber. The researched saw various working professionals including managers, architects, designers, programmers and marketing professionals carrying out their typical working activities with no idea that the air conditions were being altered. They worked in 3 different conditions; standard office air, clean air and extra clean air and their mental performance in tasks was studied. Incredibly, their performance was on average 61% better in the clean air conditions and 101% better in the extra clean air conditions compared to in standard office air. These results clearly demonstrate the substantial impact air quality has on employee productivity and are just one example from a breadth of existing research.

A series of studies by Matthew Neidell and colleagues has demonstrated decreased productivity in workers making phone calls and packing fruit as a result of polluted air. Incredibly, the researchers calculated that across the research period (1999-2008) in the fruit packing factories, improvements in air quality saved the US manufacturing industry a whopping $20billion a year in productivity. They stated that gains would have been felt across the entirety of the US economy, demonstrating the astronomical capabilities of clean indoor air.

Employee Sickness.
Employee absenteeism as a result of sickness symptoms related to bad quality air is believed to cost UK employers tens of billions of pounds every year. Statistics show that the average UK employee costs their employer £600 per year in sick pay, however this figure only considers the direct and obvious costs such as wages, administrative and personnel costs. It doesn’t include the hidden, indirect costs such as missed deadlines and reduced company productivity, and is therefore substantially higher in reality.

In addition to absenteeism due to common illnesses such as colds and flu, approximately 50% of the UK’s population suffer from allergies and a survey by the Met Office found that hay fever alone costs UK businesses 29 million working days every year (11 days per sufferer each year). When you also consider the drastic reduction in productivity that allergy related symptoms cause within the workplace, they become even more of a hindrance to businesses.

The solution.
The most efficient way to clean the air in your workplace is through advanced clean air technology and only one company are producing patented technology that is able to catch and neutralise all air pollutants including virus and bacteria that leads to employee sickness. And we are delighted to have become an official ambassador for Radic8 – the highest certified clean air technology in the world. Unlike the competition – who almost entirely rely on HEPA filtration technology, Radic8’s innovative, patented Viruskiller technology is able to perform complete sterilisation, boosting employee productivity and reducing sick days by more than 50%.

 

References
1. Allen, J.G., MacNaughton, P., Satish, U., Santanam, S., Vallarino, J., & Spengler, J.D. (2016). Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(6), p.805.

2. Chang, T., Graff Zivin, J., Gross, T., Neidell, M. (2016). Particulate pollution and the productivity of pear packers. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8:3, p141–169.

3. Chang, T., Graff Zivin, J., Gross, T., Neidell, M. (2016). The Effect of Pollution on Office Workers: Evidence from Call Centers in China. NBER Working Paper No.No. 22328, 2016-06.

4. Graff Zivin, J. & Neidell, M. (2012) The impact of pollution on worker productivity. American Economic Review 102:7, p3652–3673.