When it comes to commercial buildings and facilities, there are many concerns to juggle. Indoor Air Quality, also referred to as IAQ, is one that is vital to the health and comfort of those who live or work in those buildings. It’s important enough that OSHA has specific guidance on the subject. But what exactly is it, and how do we measure and improve it?
What Is IAQ?
Indoor Air Quality, as defined by the EPA, is “…the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants”. According to the EPA, inadequate ventilation is a common cause of bad IAQ, and poor indoor air quality can have both immediate and long-term effects, depending upon the circumstances.
What Does IAQ Mean for Industrial Hygiene?
Most people don’t notice when things go as expected, which is true for good air quality. But when the air is full of allergens, bad smells, or chemical fumes, IAQ becomes a problem. Unfortunately, allergens and some chemical fumes may not be noticeable, so the problem can accumulate.
What Are the Major Indoor Pollutants?
The EPA breaks down the three most common types of indoor pollutants into three basic categories:
- Biological pollutants – organic matter, living and dead (molds, dander, pollen, bacteria)
- Chemical pollutants – volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde, lead, and radon.
- Combustion pollutants – smoke and the fumes from burning things. Carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke top the list. Some forms of combustion, especially burning plastics, can also produce VOCs during combustion.
What Is an IAQ Test?
An IAQ test measures the levels of common pollutants, allergens, carbon monoxide, mold spores, and radon. It gives a rating on how safe the air is to breathe.
What Is Acceptable Indoor Air Quality?
The air quality index is the EPA’s official yardstick for measuring how bad the air is based on the levels of pollutants present. By their standard, anything that rates greater than 100 is unhealthy, and anything more than 50 is risky for those with sensitivities.
How Can I Improve IAQ?
There are several ways to improve IAQ in your building. Three important things you can start with include:
- Improving ventilation
- Adding air cleaning or better filtration to your HVAC system
- Eliminating or isolating sources of pollutants
Henick-Lane is the Right Contractor for HVAC Upgrades
At Henick-Lane, we are experts on indoor air quality, bringing to the table more than half a century of experience with all aspects of commercial HVAC systems. Contact us online to request a consultation or call 718-768-7277 or arrange an indoor air quality assessment. Our team will work with you to create the perfect air quality solution for your specific needs. We look forward to hearing from you.
If you prefer to contact us via email, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.