INDOOR  AIR  QUALITY
EVALUATION & CONSULTATIONS

THE IAQ EVALUATION PROCESS
FOR SICK BUILDINGS


Individuals find themselves with symptoms or illnesses which seem to be associated with their time spent in a specific building.  The symptoms usually appear or worsen when after they enter and subside after they leave the building.

 
Most people try to continue working after they develop these symptoms, prolonging their exposures and usually increasing the severity of their reactions by this delay.

 
After individuals are convinced they need an independent  professional IAQ evaluation, we are called on to diagnose the problem and its causes.  We inspect the building and its conditions, interview the occupants for their medical, employment and toxic exposure histories, and test its ventilation system where appropriate.

 
In buildings with HVAC systems and ductwork, state-of-the-art inspection procedures, such as duct robot cameras are used to visually assess the conditions within enclosed air transport systems.  Boroscopes may be used to examine wall and floor cavities, and above false ceilings.

 
 
A sampling plan is designed and various types of air samples may be taken for more extensive laboratory analysis.

 
It is often desirable or necessary to take surface samples to identify or measure surface-attached sources of indoor air quality pollutants.

 
 
Various on-site air measurements are frequently needed to detect toxic gases, vapors or fumes.  Air stagnation is measured, as well as "comfort" factors.

 
Extensive laboratory analysis is frequently needed to identify the presence and numbers of toxic, allergenic or pathogenic microorganisms.

 
Identification of the types of microorganisms often yields important information on the toxic or carcinogen levels from biological sources.

 
 
After all of the results are in and evaluated, we have defined the types, levels, sources and locations of all air pollutants and the associated potential and real hazards derived from each.  With this information, we often request that each affected individual have their physician run special clinical lab tests on them to determine whether they have reacted to any of these environmental stressors which have been uncovered in the spaces they occupy.  
Was it in the heavily contaminated ventilation duct, or 
did it air pollutant come from somewhere else?  Now 
we find out the exact cause-and-effect for each affected
individual's reaction with respect to exposure to their environment.

 

(Before and after duct cleaning)

Various ventilation duct contaminants were found to affect many of the individuals suffering in this scenario.  A duct and building cleaning was recommended and exact contract specifications were written for the owner to define where cleaning and/or duct removal was to be utilized, how clean were the ducts to be left, what types of disinfection or contaminant neutralization was to be applied, and what final clearance values were to be achieved by the cleaning project throughout the building.  Without these safeguards, contractors usually do not provide the necessary service to effect the "cure" for those afflicted individuals.  A very common outcome is then money spent without realizing the desired mitigation of the air pollutants.  Litigation often follows adding to the overall expense.  Effective remediation project management and followup testing minimize this undesirable outcome.

This approach which we have pioneered over 20 years has proven effective at minimizing or mitigating better than 85% of the IAQ complaints in hundreds of our projects.

 

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Copyright (c) 1999.  All Rights Reserved by J.H. Guth.