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October 14, 2011 -
When it comes to dealing with a potential indoor air quality issue at your facility, be sure to follow a few don'ts. First, don't put ideas in their heads. Don't permit the misuse of symptom questionnaires. Symptom questionnaires are among the most dangerous tools of indoor air evaluation and investigation. Providing symptom questionnaires to workers can reinforce perceptions of symptoms and make matters worse rather than better.
There are ways in which symptom interviews can be conducted in an individual manner to learn how workers feel at different times and in different locations. These should be done in open-ended ways rather than having workers respond to comprehensive lists of symptoms.
And don't allow non-medical people to give medical answers. Individuals might ask "Why do I have a headache?" or "Why do I feel tired all the time?" Even medically trained people cannot accurately answer these questions without a full evaluation of the individual — something which rarely takes place in the context of a building evaluation.
It is categorically improper and dangerous for non-medical people to venture into these areas and try to provide answers to such questions.