Today, most people have heard of the possible impact of ambient air quality issues such as smog, ozone, and air toxins. However, they are not aware of the potential dangers and health issues that can be a direct result of emissions in their home or office space.
According to the US EPA, indoor air quality (IAQ) problems are not limited to homes. In fact, many office buildings have significant air pollution sources. Some of these buildings may be inadequately ventilated. For example, mechanical ventilation systems may not be designed or operated to provide adequate amounts of outdoor air. People have less control over the indoor environment in their offices than they do in their homes. As a result, there has been an increase in the incidence of reported health problems.
Are employees missing more work days or have decreased productivity due to headaches or illness? It may be time to have the air quality in your home, or office building tested because getting air ducts cleaned or buying an air filter likely won’t solve the potential health problems. Professional indoor air investigations and chemical-specific sampling accomplish the following:
1. Determine possible pollutant sources and exposure pathways.
2. Measure the concentration of indoor air pollutants relative to greatest potential health threats at locations which there are known pollutant sources or exposure pathways.
3. Compare the measured concentrations of these pollutants to published threshold limit values (TLVs), permissible exposure limits (PELs), Ceiling Values (CVs), and recommended exposure limits (RELs).
4. Determine if the measured concentrations indicate the presence of a possible health hazard to employees, students, or occupants.
5. Provide recommendations for mediating any identified health hazards.
Homes and commercial buildings can be tested for numerous parameters including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, temperature, relative humidity, particulate matter, air toxins such as formaldehyde and volatile organic carbons, and bioaerosols (mold spores, pollen, insect parts, and skin cells) using specialized monitoring equipment.
Filter-based time-averaged samples are analyzed by an accredited laboratory and compared to recommendations set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Based on the air quality evaluation of your home or commercial building, an SCS scientist or engineer will provide you with recommendations for air quality improvement and remediation. If you suspect an indoor air quality problem, please contact one of our indoor air specialists like Katie Youngstrom and Paul Schafer, qualified professionals who will thoroughly inspect your indoor environment and determine if and where the pollution is originating along with the most efficient remediation actions.
About the Authors: Mr. Paul Schafer is a Vice President and Project Director at SCS Engineers, and our National Expert on Ambient Air Monitoring. During his technical career at SCS and SCS Tracer Environmental, Mr. Schafer has assumed key roles on several nationally significant monitoring efforts. Paul is also a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) and has conducted multiple indoor air quality investigations.
Diane Samuels directs corporate communications at SCS and has expertise in medical and health communications; outreach strategies; and infographics.
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