Indoor Air Quality on Campus
Modern buildings are generally considered safe and healthful living environments. However the advent of widespread internal climate control (air conditioning) and energy conservation measures have affected the infiltration of outside air and general ventilation. Older buildings were originally designed for flow through ventilation. Air conditioning of these older facilities have generally resulted in poor ventilation air exchange rates. Energy conservation measures have resulted in better insulated, “tighter” buildings. These factors combined have resulted in what may be perceived as indoor air quality issues. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted numerous indoor air quality investigations over the past decade. The predominant source of indoor air quality problems was found to be inadequate ventilation.
early 1990’s the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has addressed
indoor air quality issues on campus. Research conducted at the
Many of the IAQ complaints received by EHS involve mold. Our initial response is to examine the area in question. Often dirt from the ventilation system and plaster are reported as a mold problem.
Mold is a
unique issue in
Testing for mold presents a unique set of challenges. There are no standards for exposure to mold. There are no limits for levels of indoor mold. There is no prescribed testing method. EHS has developed over the years a method which incorporates sound scientific principles with fundamental applied research. When running samples a known volume of air is pulled through a Mixed Cellulose Ester (MCE) filter with 0.8 micron pore size. Samples are then submitted to a nationally recognized lab for analysis filter media is digested then placed onto plates, followed by microscopic identification and counting. Results are reported as specific organisms in colony forming units per cubic meter. Reports are normally received 3-6 weeks after samples are taken. Therefore if visible mold is present EHS will normally treat the area immediately rather than conduct sampling and wait for analysis
absence of regulatory standards interpretation of the reported results could
present difficulties. In April of 2002,
Indoor air quality is a very complicated area of research. Numerous factors may be involved including ventilation rates, humidity, hypersensitivity, perception, psychology and others. If you believe your area has a problem with indoor air quality contact EHS at 348-5905 for an evaluation. If you live in Residential Life report any concerns through the appropriate community director.