Indoor Air Solutions, Inc. uses a highly effective investigative protocol
to pinpoint the causes of odors, Sick Building Syndrome and Building
Related Illnesses. The steps in these investigations include:
We conduct one-on-one occupant interviews with each person who
feels that the building may be triggering symptoms. These interviews are
frequently done in a neutral location, with complete confidentiality. These
interviews will establish a link with the subject building, or point to
another source, and often suggest substances appropriate for testing.
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning System Inspection and
The design, operation, and maintenance of a building's ventilation
system are critical because industry statistics indicate that up to 50%
of all indoor air quality (IAQ) complaints are related to the ventilation
system. We perform a design analysis from blueprints, inspect visually
accessible components of the system (such as condensate pans, coils, drain
lines, fans, and filters), and take ventilation measurements to ensure
the adequacy of air delivery of the system. Outside damper positions,
damper motors, variable-air-volume (VAV) boxes are also inspected for control,
function, and overall condition and mechanical components inspected for
Ductwork inspections are performed using a fiberoptic borescope camera or
digital camera and are documented and catalogued for future reference to
be used as a comparative evaluation or in the event a problem arises.
IAS can perform virtually any kind of testing for airborne contaminants. We
routinely test for industrial chemicals, fungi and bacteria, carbon monoxide
and carbon dioxide, particulates, combustion byproducts, pesticides, and many
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
In recent years, IAS has noted a marked increase
in IAQ problems resulting from high levels of fungi (mold) and bacteria.
Under favorable conditions of high relative humidity and the presence of
a nutrient source (such as fiberglass lined ductwork), molds will "bloom",
releasing spores into the air. These spores trigger allergic reactions, asthma,
hypersensitivity diseases, and respiratory diseases. Overall high levels
of certain bacteria can cause fatal diseases, such as Legionnaire’s
Disease and Tuberculosis.
We have capabilities for performing air tests for viable (“living” or
culturable”) and non-viable (“dead” or “non-culturable”)
molds. We both qualify (colonies or structures/cubic meter of air) and
identify (usually to genus level and frequently to species level) the organisms
present. We have a variety of test available to detect mold grown on surfaces.
We can also perform DNA and mycotoxin (“mold-poison”) testing on
Temperature and Relative Humidity
Temperature and relative
humidity readings serve as an indicator for general comfort levels. Thermal
comfort and relative humidity can have a profound effect on the overall
perception of IAQ. This standard was designed to satisfy 80% of the occupants.
Elevated relative humidity readings provide conditions favorable for microbial
growth, while low relative humidity, occurring frequently in the winter
months, can dry mucous membranes and make occupants more susceptible to
Carbon dioxide levels are used as a surrogate
for the determination of ventilation deficiency. Carbon dioxide is exhaled
by occupants, and if the ventilation system does not adequately import and/or
exhaust contaminated air, background levels will increase throughout the
day. The consequences of such a build-up are that occupants become fatigued
and inattentive and work quality declines. More importantly, other contaminants
in the building will accumulate in a manner similar to carbon dioxide. For
example, if copier machines are used frequently throughout the day, ozone
generated by these machines may also accumulate to unhealthy levels. The
health consequences of ozone exposure are far more serious than a build-up
of carbon dioxide.
VOCs are chemical compounds
which are an inherent part of modern, everyday life. Sources of these compounds
include: adhesives, cleaners, dry cleaning agents, paint, and building materials.
The health effects of VOCs can range from upper respiratory tract irritation,
headaches, nausea and coughing to life threatening toxic reactions. For this
reason, it is important to accurately monitor and portray the presence of these
substances, particularly in newly renovated buildings or whenever a significant
change in building activity occurs.
Formaldehyde, also a VOC, is of particular
concern because recent EPA studies have shown that approximately 10% of all
individuals are hypersensitive to formaldehyde. Many of these hypersensitive
individuals have severe symptoms at concentrations as low as 0.1 ppm. By
contrast, the OSHA permissible workplace standard established at 0.75 parts
Benefits of IAQ Testing
There are numerous benefits from conducting a proactive monitoring program.
The following is a brief summary of some of the benefits that may be realized
through conducting a comprehensive proactive monitoring program:
1. Reduction Of Employee Absenteeism - Woods (1993) has
performed calculations which show that, on average, employees miss up to
six days per year from sickness and illness related to poor IAQ. Based on
these calculations, the cost of this lost work time far exceeds any benefit
that may be gained by reducing outside air ventilation and the conservation
2. Length And Equipment Replacement Cycles - It is common
knowledge that dirty and poorly maintained equipment are more prone to mechanical
failure and shortened useful life cycles. Therefore, from an equipment maintenance
program standpoint, it makes very good sense to conduct a proactive program
of ventilation system inspections. We frequently find numerous Operations & Maintenance
problems with the HVAC system, including dirty or missing filters, condensate
pans which leak or overflow, condensate drain lines which are not free flowing,
dirty ductwork, belts which are missing or frayed, components which have
not been properly lubricated, etc. A good proactive program should
detect many of these conditions before they create serious problems.
3. Reduced Energy Costs - In many of the buildings where
we have conducted monitoring programs, we have found that there is more outside
air being brought into the space than necessary. It may well be that your
building is capable of reducing the amount of outside air and conserving
energy cost without adversely impacting IAQ. The only way to tell for sure
is to take ventilation measurements.
4. Improved Public Image And Positive Public Relations -
In the modern era, employers and employees tend to be increasingly impressed
by managers who take proactive steps to prevent problems. The fact that building
owners and managers are leading the way in performing testing which is not,
at the moment, required by government agencies, is impressive to many. Furthermore,
there is the added benefit of tenant retention and boosting the building's
5. Reduced Cost For Setting Up A Proactive Program Such As May Be
Implemented In The Future - It seems clear that government agencies
may soon require some type of proactive IAQ monitoring program in schools. At
present, it is somewhat unclear whether OSHA, EPA or a new national IAQ bill
will establish parameters for monitoring and the timing is equally unclear.
However, we believe that within a reasonable period of time, some form of
regulation will be enacted.