How occupants perceive indoor air quality (IAQ) in a typical commercial office environment can be very subjective. ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2013 -- Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality (ANSI Approved) Standard sets ventilation rates that will "satisfy a substantial majority (about 80%) of unadapted persons (visitors) in a space." Meaning that even if Standard 62 is satisfied, a potential two of ten people may find the air unacceptable.
However subjective one's perception of IAQ is, as a building owner, property manager, or building engineer it's critical that IAQ complaints are proactively responded to and managed.
The IAQ problem indicator dictates the associated response, with some requiring immediate attention. Other problems are less urgent, but all require a response. The following is exerted from Building Air Quality "A Guide for Building Owners & Facility Managers" (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/91-114/pdfs/91-114.pdf)
Problems Requiring Immediate Action
- There have been complaints of headaches, nausea, and combustion odors.
- One or more occupants of your building have been diagnosed as having Legionnaire’s disease.
- Staff report that water from a roof leak has flooded a portion of the carpeting.
Problems That Require A Response, But Are Not Emergencies
- Inspection of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system reveals an accumulation of slime and mold. There have been no health complaints suggesting IAQ problems.
- A group of occupants has discovered that they share common symptoms of headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory complaints and decided that their problems are due to conditions in the building.
- Immediately after delivery of new furnishings (furniture or carpeting), occupants complain of odors and discomfort.
- Local news articles suggest that some buildings in the area have high indoor radon levels.
- You wonder whether some old pipe insulation contains asbestos.
Roof leaks and HVAC related moisture issues that saturate porous building materials like carpeting, ceiling tiles, or drywall are the most common IAQ problem indicators overlooked. Unfortunately, Building Owners and Property Managers do not take "Immediate Action" to resolve these moisture issue. This is due to many factors, most being out of their control and due to a lack of proper notification by tenants. Tenants must be directed to communicate moisture issues immediately and a chain of command and response protocol must be set prior.
If damp porous building materials cannot be thoroughly dried within a short time (72 hours), it might need to be discarded. Proper cleaning and disinfection procedures must be used to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria that could cause serious future indoor air quality problems.
CES's Proactive Indoor Air Quality Management Plan provides you with all of the proper resources for managing and reacting to IAQ complaints. A Proactive approach to IAQ management reduces the chances of a “healthy” building being labeled as “sick." Problems or potential problems are quickly identified and corrected at minimal expense. Contact us Today to learn more.