Top Asthma Triggers
- Second Hand Smoke
- Dust Mites
- Pets (e.g., cat dander)
- Mold & Mildew
- Pests - cockroach, mice, rats
- House Dust
What Causes IAQ Problems?
Most IAQ complaints are caused by a lack of outside fresh air and symptoms related to the condition of the HVAC system. This often leads to symptoms of discomfort and generalized, non-specific symptoms. Indoor and outdoor sources of chemical contaminants may be created by work processes, debris and neighboring operations. Mold, mildew and microbial growth are often caused by water leaks or high humidity conditions.
What Can You Do?
Be a detective. Start by looking around and smelling. Are there any odors? What kind? - chemical-like or biological (e.g., musty/moldy). Take a look at your HVAC system. Do filters need changing? Are outside air dampers open, or even present? Is the HVAC working properly? Is it clean and free of dirt or condensation inside the units? Clean, service and adjust HVAC systems as necessary.
Next ask some questions - How many people are affected? One, many? Are they in the same or different areas? Do they have anything in common, including proximity to certain equipment, work activities, HVAC system components, etc? What time of day does it occur? What might have changed recently to cause the complaints (e.g., work done by contractors; new operation; water leaks/rain)? Try to determine if there were any chemicals, incidents or work activities in common. Make some changes to these factors to see if they change the complaints.
Why Get an IAQ Survey?
IAQ surveys by an impartial consultant are recommended whenever you have health complaints or concerns that remain unresolved. The purpose of the IAQ survey is to either identify the contaminant or condition responsible for the concerns, or at least rule out possibilities. EHSI can offer a wide variety of Phase 1 inspections and Phase 2 testing to resolve your critical issues.
Indoor Air Quality
EHS Innovator's staff is highly experienced at performing all types of indoor air quality (IAQ) and industrial hygiene investigations. All our experts have received specific training in the advanced evaluation of IAQ problems, and frequently participate in professional development opportunities on a variety of subjects. We are experienced at performing all levels of air quality assessments from diagnosing the causes of odors, to complete insurance restorations and mold remediation oversight. An ABIH Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or Certified Microbial Consultant (CMC) will routinely initiate the investigation by determining the symptoms, complaints and conditions. Often no sampling is performed until we ascertain the problem and develop a strategy focusing on the issue.
Basic IAQ Services
Indoor Air Quality problems can be caused by a wide variety of agents from simple thermal comfort to dust, allergens, mold or chemicals. See web video about House Dust Allergens.
The first step in resolving your potential air quality problem is to diagnose your symptoms and condition. An experienced professional will develop a customized protocol for evaluating your house or building. Commonly, the basic general IAQ inspection will include the following -
- Observation of potential sources of airborne chemical contamination (e.g., engines, chemical processes, neighboring facilities, garbage and debris)
- Inspection of the layout and distribution of air supplies to the spaces.
- Inspection of the condition of the HVAC system and accessible components, namely filters, condensate drip pans, cooling & heating coils, air intakes, air supply and return grills, and the type of ductwork.
- Observation for evidence of water infiltration, excessive moisture or microbial growth.
- Contaminant sources near HVAC air intakes and returns.
- Carbon Dioxide (as an indicator of fresh air supply)
- Relative Humidity
- Carbon Monoxide
- Total & Respirable Particulates
- Total Volatile Organics (w/ PID)
Further Air Testing
Often, air quality problems can relate to the tightness of the building or the building products that are used. If potential sources of chemical or microbial contamination are suspected, EHSI may recommend that further testing be done to identify these substances or eliminate possibilities. EHSI utilizes the latest direct-reading instruments and government-approved laboratory test methods when performing measurements. Examples of diagnostic services and routine tests for indoor air conditions include:
- Comprehensive Home Performance Audits - whole house solutions for indoor air quality and energy efficiency
- Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) using Summa canisters and EPA methods - LEED air testing and Vapor Intrusion studies are offered
- LEED Green Building IEQ Testing
- Building Material Moisture
- Building Diagnosis using Infrared Thermography
- Asbestos or Fiberglass - EHSI offers AHERA Accredited Asbestos Inspectors
Mold, Bacteria and Bioaerosol Testing
EHSI offers comprehensive services in the investigation and remediation of mold and other microbial growth. The testing we offer includes:
- Mold in air - viable spores, total spores, PCR
- Mildew on materials
- Surface wipes and tape lift samples
- Legionella in water
- Allergens - e.g., cat, dog, cockroach, dust mites, mice
- Full Particle Identification - looks for fibers, animal & insect parts, minerals and unusual materials when standard testing is not conclusive
- Comprehensive Industrial Hygiene testing
All lab samples are forwarded immediately to highly-qualified and accredited third party microbiological laboratories following all appropriate scientific quality control procedures.
What You Can Expect to Receive?
A comprehensive report will usually be issued outlining the results of testing. The report will include a description of the observations made, sampling methodologies used, means of interpreting the data, a description of results, and recommendations for follow-up action (if any). Chemical and basic air quality results will most often be compared to prevailing occupational exposure limits and other industry consensus standard, such as those from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Professional Follow-up Services
Periodic follow-up testing is offered to confirm consistently good air quality in your facility, and proactively satisfy employee concerns in advance of problems. If needed, EHSI´s professional staff can discuss findings with your safety committee, company physician or school board. Certified Environmental Health & Safety Trainers and public health specialists can train your staff on diagnosing and resolving IAQ complaints before they become employee relations problems. Certified Industrial Hygienists are also experienced at providing expert testimony services in support of IAQ matters in the event of civil litigation.