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Indoor Air Quality

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Indoor Air Quality It Pays to Be Proactive

Indoor Air Quality - It Pays to Be ProactiveMany organizations respond to indoor air quality (IAQ) issues only after they receive complaints, and sometimes not even then! Organizations using the “wait and see” approach often suffer considerable liabilities and losses, due to problems ranging from simple odor issues to building-related diseases to widespread mold problems. With colder weather upon us, companies and organizations would be wise to institute a proactive indoor air quality program.

The goal of a well-designed indoor air quality program is to identify the factors that cause or contribute to an acute or chronic degradation of a building’s indoor air quality, which in turn can negatively affect the occupants. While there are countless numbers and types of factors affecting indoor air quality, experience shows that typically these are

  • Building systems
  • Management/Administration
  • Occupants
  • Outside influences

Indoor Air Quality - It Pays to Be ProactiveIdentifying the root causes of unacceptable IAQ is key to the prevention or elimination of sick-building syndrome and other building-related illnesses, which in turn reduces or eliminates the losses and liabilities associated with unacceptable indoor air quality.

Whether it is a school, office, healthcare, commercial, manufacturing, or research facility, liabilities from unacceptable IAQ can translate directly into financial losses. A successful and effective IAQ program will centralize the identified factors and provide a mechanism to control them.

The first step in developing a successful IAQ program is to understand the facility and who the responsible parties are, including employees and other firms that provide services such as HVAC maintenance, housekeeping, pest control etc. The next step is to understand the various building systems such as HVAC, plumbing, glazing, and electrical, and to conduct a detailed inventory of all equipment. Once these systems and their current levels of maintenance are fully understood, the task of detailed program and procedure development begins. This is the most important part of the program as most IAQ problems are directly related to building systems.

Indoor Air Quality - It Pays to Be ProactivePreparation for emergencies, as well as planned and unplanned construction or renovation, are important because each has the potential to degrade air quality. For example, strong odors from some solvents can cause alarm among your employees. To minimize unnecessary concern, significant planning is needed before, during, and after a planned event.

Other components of an effective IAQ program include the development of performance criteria, response procedures, technology assessments, regulations and guidelines, policies and procedures, and benchmarking and auditing. Development and implementation of the program can take six to twelve months depending on the resources committed by the organization. For more information or to discuss implementing a proactive IAQ program for your organization, please contact Chris Schneider, CIH, President, at 610-524-5525 ext 14.

Need more information, or a proposal? Please send us an information request.



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