License # 719286
Steve Huff
The Purpose of IAQ

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Some professionals in the field might say, "to ensure that all potential contaminants are within published acceptable parameters.” Often you might get a conclusion that contaminant levels are acceptable so there is nothing more to be done.


Why does that unpleasant odor still appear from time to time?

Don't you think performing an indoor air quality investigation or inspection and testing should actually improve the overall quality of the air indoors?

Reporting that there is nothing wrong is generally not comforting to those who are still suffering actual or perceived adverse effects of occupying a certain area

So what are we to do? After all, we are not doctors. We can't cure their health issues. No! We can't!

So what is to be done?


A good indoor air quality investigation, like most tasks we deal with, begins with the right attitude. First, consider there is a problem and our task is to solve it. Second, consider there is a solution to be discovered and we have that capability and the knowledge of appropriate steps to resolve it.

An inspection and testing done by rote can sometimes be successful. It's not quite "a blind squirrel finding an acorn." There are standard tests that can locate and measure levels of contaminants. Such clues can lead to a solution. But often it is not that simple.

A real key is communication. Often employers don't want an investigator to talk to employees. The consideration is that it could cause contagion of agreement. ”Oh! There's something wrong with the air. I always thought there might be a problem."


Admittedly such scenarios can happen, but it generally only becomes a problem if nothing is found. And assurance should always be communicated that management is taking precautions to ensure all is well and that's why this is being done. Get as much information as possible from management so where to begin looking is somewhat apparent. Asking the right questions can be quite fruitful.

This brings us to another attitude that is vital to a successful investigation. If there is a complaint, there is something that can be improved. Personally, I have never conducted an investigation where I didn't find something that could be done to improve the overall air quality.

Another key is observation. Are there odors that should not be there? Any indications of water intrusion - stained ceiling tiles, stained carpets, bowed wall portions, "popped" nails, etc. The inspection should be thorough and can lead to the most appropriate tests and thus potential solutions. Sometimes a "smoking gun" is found, but often a series of less dramatic departures from the ideal are detected that once corrected produces overall improvement.

Realize that near perfect indoor air quality is very rare in virtually any building. That being the case, there are always improvements possible. Discovering and recommending them will improve conditions once they are implemented.