Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

IAQThere are many causes of poor indoor air quality in the construction industry. Foremost is poor ventilation; other culprits include problems controlling temperature, high or low humidity and construction dust. Contaminants like dust, mold, cleaning supplies, pesticides, or other airborne chemicals, including small amounts of chemicals released as a gas over time can also cause poor IAQ.

Although there is no single test to find an IAQ problem, OSHA does have standards about ventilation and some contaminants that can be involved in IAQ problems.  Site managers should check measurements of temperature, humidity and air flow. In addition, inspection and testing of the ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems to make sure they are working according to specifications for building use and occupancy, should be performed. In some circumstances, specific testing for radon or for asbestos may be required as part of building occupancy.

OSHA advises that a building walk-through to check for odors, water damage, leaks, dirt or pest droppings is also helpful. Leaks need to be eliminated. Standing water in humidifiers, air conditioning units, on roofs and in boiler pans can become contaminated with bacteria or fungi and need to be eliminated as well.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Also, some specific diseases have been linked to certain air contaminants or indoor environments, like asthma with damp indoor environments. In addition, some exposures, such as asbestos and radon, do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after many years.

In short, the qualities of good IAQ should include comfortable temperature and humidity, adequate supply of fresh outdoor air, and control of pollutants from inside and outside of the building.

For more information about keeping your construction site safe and healthy, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.




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