Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on iaq

1. Common Sources of IAQ Issues

IAQ

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is identifying the most common indoor air quality culprits.

Maintenance and engineering managers constantly seek out ways to improve IAQ. The evaluation process often results in managers revamping preventive maintenance tasks so technicians have a detailed game plan for monitoring and diagnosing building systems and components for IAQ deficiencies.

Managers and technicians typically can inspect a few specific areas in facilities to identify causes of poor IAQ. Common sources of IAQ issues are these:

First, air-supply intakes. They can cause IAQ problems for many reasons. They can receive an inadequate air volume, they are favorite roosting places for birds, and they might introduce contaminated outdoor air.

Next are sub-roof or below-grade areas. These areas are subject to moisture in still air, which results in mold growth. Crawl spaces where water can puddle unnoticed are a breeding ground for mold, pests and allergens that can cause respiratory illness.

Third, chemical storage areas. Cleaning chemicals, paints and other materials can evaporate and release toxic vapors and volatile organic compounds.

And finally, HVAC ducts.Ductwork that provides heated or cooled air to the facility also can be a culprit. Water induced into them from humidifiers in the winter and condensate in the summer can grow mold. Any time there is high temperature with no air circulation, mold can grow rapidly. Plus, mold can stick on substances that adhere to duct walls, loosen, and then enter the air supply.


2.  Restroom Maintenance

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is restroom maintenance.

How can managers ensure the success of their departments' efforts to properly maintain and clean restrooms? Even with the best cleaning program and periodic preventive maintenance, managers must be able to monitor performance and be ready to make changes.

For example, a maintenance program might work fine until seasonal weather changes occur. If humidity levels and temperatures are high with little air circulation — in other words, if no doors or windows are open and no air conditioners are running — buildings can experience sudden, new mold growth.

In closed spaces that occupants subsequently re-open, this new mold can cause medical problems resulting from the release of mycotoxins, which can lead to health problems that include skin irritation, serious reactions and even death. The situation also can result in more expenses for cleaning products and services, property damage, and even lawsuits to pay for remedial action.

Restrooms can be particularly susceptible to such problems if leaks introduce excess moisture. The preventive solution to this unexpected situation is to test both air and surfaces to complement good cleaning and maintenance. Microbes are invisible to the naked eye, and even in the best-maintained facilities, they can grow quickly and become hazardous to health.

The solution is to monitor hygiene using indoor-air-quality samplers for indoor air and swabs for surfaces. One such tester records the level of adenosine triphosphate, a molecule in all animal, bacterial, plant, mold, and yeast cells.

Other services offer lab testing of samples collected on site. These services provide the independent backup to in-house checks, as well as the certification necessary to ensure in-house testing is thorough enough, and that restrooms meets the expectations of the owner, managers, and users.

3.  IAQ: Shape the Story

Perceptions about indoor air quality have a physiological and a psychological component. Develop a risk communication program to tackle the psychological side of it. A risk communication program can help to shape reasonable expectations and promote favorable perceptions of a building. Educating occupants on the facts of IAQ can dispel many misconceptions and perceived problems.

Be proactive. Show that you are addressing the situation. Use a complaint response form tailored to IAQ needs at your facility to maintain accurate recordkeeping of any IAQ complaints. Detailed recordkeeping is essential in both diagnosis of future recurring problems and in protecting facility management from potential claims of negligence.

4.  IAQ: Keep Communication Lines Open

When it comes to indoor air quality complaints, ignoring the problem will certainly not make it go away. Some individuals in a building's population can develop a reputation with the facilities management department of being whiners or exaggerators, which might tempt some to discount their complaints.

But when it comes to IAQ, every complaint should be taken seriously. If an individual perceives that the facilities department is not taking their issue seriously, what might have been a minor easily addressed situation can snowball into a snarl of trouble with the potential to even lead to litigation.

Be sure to create a transparent and timely response to the complaint, updating the complainant on the progress being made on the investigation and the resolution of the problem.


RELATED CONTENT:


iaq , contaminants , diagnostic tools , air intakes , HVAC , ductwork

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