Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?



According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), approximately 70% of the U.S. work force (89 million people) work in non-industrial, non-agricultural, indoor work environments.

Over the past 25 years, health complaints related to these indoor environments have received increasing attention due to changes in building construction (i.e., tight buildings), litigation issues, and media attention.

Indoor air quality or IAQ is used to describe indoor environments (i.e., office buildings) that may cause adverse health effects or discomfort to building occupants.

Many factors can contribute to indoor air quality issues, including:

  • Ventilation system deficiencies (i.e., poor maintenance, insufficient outdoor air, design, etc.);

  • Off-gassing of building materials, furnishings, equipment;

  • Indoor and outdoor combustion sources;

  • Tobacco smoke;

  • Building maintenance and housekeeping;

  • Moisture sources (i.e., relative humidity>70%, water leaks, condensation, etc.);

  • & Mold growth.

What can you do if your building has IAQ issues?


Here are the procedures that our professionals follow to identify any potential issues:

  1. Conduct a walk-through of the building to identify possible sources of the problem. Look at both exterior and interior parts of the building, ventilation systems, and areas of potential contaminants.

  2. Conduct the following: interview building occupants; identify possible pathways and sources of exposure; and review previous testing or sampling data, maintenance records, or other pertinent information.

  3. Conduct monitoring to confirm the presence or to identify levels of potential contaminants.

  4. Prepare report with results the walk-through, sampling analysis, and recommendations to address the problems.

  5. Participate in meetings (with client representatives and building occupants) to increase awareness of IAQ issues and communicate with building occupants.

Preventative Measures

  1. Evaluate the ventilation systems

  • Adequate amount of outdoor air as recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

  • Check maintenance procedures. Conduct routine cleaning and maintenance of ventilation systems to include changing of filter regularly, proper drainage of pans, cleaning of cooling and re-heat coils, proper location of intakes, etc.

  • Check relative humidity and temperature levels (ASHRAE recommended range of 30 to 60% RH and 68 F to 79 F).

  1. Implement an IAQ program to include the following:

  • Procedures to respond to IAQ issues;

  • Previous IAQ sampling;

  • Construction or renovation activities;

  • Oversee activities such as smoking lounges, pest control, housekeeping, etc.; and

  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of chemicals used in the building like cleaning products.

  1. Communicate with building occupants regarding the following:

  • General IAQ information including guidelines and regulations;

  • Specific building-related IAQ issues;

  • Upcoming building activities (renovation, abatement, repairs, pest control, etc.);

  • Sampling or testing data; and

  • Changes in design or layout of the building and its systems.

  1. Conduct periodic or annual testing of IAQ parameters (temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, etc.).

  1. Maintain documentation of building activities (renovation, abatement, remediation, housekeeping, etc.), sampling and testing data, ventilation system records (testing and balancing maintenance, design changes, problems, etc.), occupant complaints and issues, etc.

If you have any questions about IAQ, mold, or if you would like to learn more about our services, please contact Sampa Das Ostrem, Certified Industrial Hygienist, at (217) 299-0598.