indoor air quality & mold

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  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) & Mold

    By Jereld Salazar

  • Definition of IAQThe physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of indoor air in non-residential workplace with no internal industrial processes or operations that can affect the comfort or health of the occupant.

  • Building-related illnessA specific illness with a known cause that is a result of exposure to an indoor agent. Examples are Legionnaires disease and Pontiac fever.

  • Sick Building SyndromeAcute health and comfort effects linked to the time spent in workplace, but no specific illness or cause can be identified(Upper respiratory complaints, irritation, fatigue)

  • Why Indoor Air Quality is Important?People spend about 90% of their time indoors. Many people spend their entire working day inside an office, factory, or other facility.Poor air quality can lead to a number of physical symptoms and complaints.

  • What symptoms are often linked to poor indoor air quality? dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity and allergies, sinus congestion, coughing and sneezing, dizziness, and/or nausea.

  • SymptomsPeople generally notice their symptoms after several hours at work and feel better after they have left the building or when they have been away from the building for a weekend or a vacation.

  • Factors & Sources Affecting Indoor Air QualityCRSP Guideline Page 61

    1. Biological Agents Bacteria Virus Fungi (mold)

    2. Allergens 3. Biological Toxins 4. Non-Biological Agents CO CO2 NOx SOx Tobacco smoke Particles / particulates Formaldehyde Ozone Radon

    5. Inadequate Ventilation Supply air Make-up air Air distribution Location of air supply intake or exhausts Temperature Relative humidity

  • NIOSH found that the primary sources of IAQ problems are: Inadequate ventilation 52% Contamination from inside building 16% Contamination from outside building 10% Microbial contamination 5% Contamination from building fabric 4% Unknown sources 13%

  • Is air contamination the only cause of these symptoms? No. Feelings of discomfort and illness may be related to any number of issues in the total indoor environment include noise levels, thermal comfort (temperature, humidity, and air movement), lighting, and ergonomics. It is important that all possible causes be investigated when assessing complaints

  • How to handle IAQ complaint?Step 1: Define the complaint area, based upon the location and distribution of complaints.

  • How to handle IAQ complaint?Step 2: Identify key people (occupants, staff, H&S committee, management, and union reps) and form a balanced inspection team. Particularly in observing odors and patterns with respect to IAQ complaints.

  • How to handle IAQ complaint?Step 3: Establish a system of recording the timing and location of complaint. Ex: Logs or written records.Step 4: Notify building occupants of the scope and purpose of any upcoming investigations.

  • How to handle IAQ complaint?Step 5: Make the final results. Provide progress reports

  • How to handle IAQ complaint?Initial Assessment & Walk through Assessment (Checklists)Interview with workersDetailed Assessment or an extensive investigation

  • Measuring InstrumentsVOC meter

  • Measuring Instruments contMold TestingAnderson SamplerSpore Trap (Air-O-Cell)Wipes samples

  • Measuring Instruments contGastec TubesParticle Counter Air Velocity Meter

  • Measuring Instruments contOzoneRadon

  • Generally, we are looking for:CO2 , Relative Humidity and Temperature

  • Sometimes is not about occupational hygiene Issues!!Poor management practicesPoor working conditionsOppressive corporate culturesPsychological or physical abusiveness

  • Real Example Story from Linkedin.comIndoor Air Quality - Unknown Odor - Possibly membrane roof? Employees in an office are complaining of headaches and metallic taste in their mouths due to an unknown odor. A full overview of the ventillation system to check for leaks, debris, drip pans & coils, pulley's and fan belts. We have had our HVAC folks out on two occassions who state everthing is working fine. (all other office deny smelling any odor). I have run an organic VOC screen and report shows no issues. I tested for coal tar pitch, did a full metal scan/dusts, a VOC GC/MS scan, tested for carbon monoxide and dioxide. Reviewed operations outside, checked loading docks, reviewed plans to see if there were any underground fuel tanks, etc. We came up with nothing from and IH standpoint. The occupants feel fine and report no odor or metal taste in mouth and there may be other underlying issues involved.

  • Mold Nature of MoldMold related sickness & SpeciesStandard for MoldControl of Mold

  • Mold related sicknessInfection - workers completing demolition in old buildings with extensive bird droppings (Histoplasma capsulatum), Poisoning Mycotoxins can cause fevers, nose bleeds, sore throats, headaches, and general fatigue - the condition is known as an organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS) Allergy sensitivity Allergic reaction

  • Species to RememberAspergillus versicolor in agricultural workers called farmers lung. Stachybotrus chartrum. Black MoldHistoplasma capsulatum Extensive bird dropping

  • Standards for Mold?No TLVs or permissible exposure limits for mold

    Any mold species found in indoor air should not be at a greater concentration than the same mold species found in outdoor air

    If a mold species is at a higher level indoors than outdoors, there is a strong likelihood that it is growing, reproducing and distributing its spores within the building.

    If the air sampling demonstrates a higher level of mold species indoors than outdoors, then there must be rigorous investigation to locate the indoor source of mold.

  • Mold Control MeasuresPrevent excessive moisture. Keep indoor humidity low (ideally between 30 and 50 percent)When water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY.If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldWhat is not a Comfort Parameter for IAQ?

    A. CO2B. relative HumidityC. TemperatureD. illumination

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldIn many IAQ complaints a confounding set of factors are:

    A. demographic imbalancesB. noisy environmentsC. psychosocial factorsD. chemical handling practices

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldNon-biological agents implicated in IAQ problems do not include:

    A. allergensB. formaldehydeC. ozoneD. radon

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldBiological agents implicated in IAQ problems do not include:

    A. bacteriaB. virusesC. fungi (mold)D. tobacco smoke

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldHistoplasmas capsulatum is found in:

    A. bird droppingsB. ticksC. peanutsD. non-chlorinated waters

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldFarmer lung is associated with:

    A. streptococcus aureusB. aspergillusC. ChlamydiaD. mitochloridians

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldWhich of the following is not considered to degrade air quality?

    A. carbon dioxide buildupB. biological organisms, spores, fungiC. disinfectantsD. odors

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldA critical element for mold growth is a need for:

    A. UVB. oxygenC. moistureD. flat surface

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldTwo traditional sources of mold causing occupational illness are:

    A. pigeon and bat excrement; machine cutting fluidsB. dairy processing; breweriesC. stagnant water; plumbing systemsD. animal hides; shellfish

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldSymptoms of mycotoxin-induced disease are sometimes called:

    A. organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS)B. severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)C. Indoor air quality allergy (IAQA)D. mycotoxin respiratory condition (MRC)

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldA mycotoxin is a:

    A. bacteriumB. virusC. protozoanD. poison produced by a mold

  • Questions about IAQ & MoldAccording to NIOSH, _____________was an IAQ / IE concern in >50% of buildings investigated.

    A. inadequate ventilationB. contamination from indoor sourcesC. microbial contaminationD. building fabric as contaminant sources

  • More Information:Health Canada:Indoor air quality in office buildings: A technical guide Exposure Guidelines for Residential Indoor Air Quality Indoor Air Quality - Tools for Schools Action Kit for Canadian Schools Dampness, Mold and Indoor Air

    WorkSafeBC:Indoor Air Quality: A guide for Building Owners; Managers, and Occupants. OSHA:Indoor Air Quality StandardsEPA:Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility MangersMold Remediation in Schools and Commercial BuildingsA Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home NIOSH:Guidance for Filtration and Air-Cleaning Systems to Protect Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks Technical Manual Indoor Air Quality Investigation (IAQ)

    Building Related Illness-Diagnosable illness whose symptoms can be identified and whose cause can be directly attributed to airborne building pollutants(e.g., hypersensitivity pneumonitis or Legionnaires disease)

    Used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and /or comfort effects that appear to be linked to the time spent in a particular building; No speci

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