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Indoor Air Quality Evaluation

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Serving Western Pennsylvania
Residential & Commercial
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a major environmental issue for businesses, building managers, tenants and employees because it can impact their health, comfort and productivity. Indoor Air Quality concerns in the workplace have increased over the last 25 years, as energy conservation methods have made office buildings "tighter", thereby allowing for the buildup of indoor air contaminants. IAQ problems may also be related to increased use of synthetic building materials, a lack of fresh air in the HVAC system, various outdoor sources of contaminates, high humidity, temperature levels and the growth of mold and bacteria.

According to the EPA, poor Indoor Air Quality is among the top five environmental risks to human health. Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health, but most are unaware that indoor air pollution can also have significant health effects. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2-5 times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels.

The effects of poor Indoor Air Quality can range from allergies, to infections, to toxic reactions. Some of the more common signs of an Indoor Air Quality problem are headaches, fatigue, nausea, skin irritation, itching/burning/watery eyes, running nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, itching skin, coughing, irritated throats, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Infectious diseases can be spread through poor Indoor Air Quality. These diseases include flu, measles, chicken pox, tuberculosis, Legionnaire's disease and Pontiac Fever. The term "Sick Building Syndrome" (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The term "Building Related Illness" (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that poor Indoor Air Quality may cost employers tens of billions of dollars each year in medical costs, employee sick leave and lost production.

The quality of an indoor environment is the result of interaction between the building site, pollutant sources, the current ventilation system and its operation, building furnishings and the building occupants. Indoor air pollutants can be chemical, biological or physical. Indoor air pollution results from the presence of airborne hazardous substances or the accumulation of unacceptable levels of various pollutants such as fungi, mold, gasses, vapors, dusts and bacteria. Indoor air pollutants may be present due to inadequate ventilation, poorly maintained HVAC systems and/or recent water damage. Pollutants may additionally be present due to a change in site operation or can be source-generated by materials such as paints, dusts, carpet adhesives and industrial by-products. Indoor Air Quality testing can sometimes be complex because of the large number of factors involved.

GreyGrey Technologies provides consulting services that can effectively solve Indoor Air Quality problems. Our team of qualified Indoor Air Quality specialists can inspect and evaluate all building types (residential and commercial) (owned or rented): single or multiple-family homes/mansions; apartments/complexes; schools; office/municipal buildings; retail properties.

Our distinctive approach to evaluating Indoor Air Quality has been successful in spaces ranging in size from individual tenant spaces to entire high-rise buildings. Sick Building Syndrome and Building Related Illness are more likely in large commercial spaces because of the complexity of the HVAC systems, variety of tenants, space constraints and the surrounding area. As buildings age, the potential for isolated problems increase while the possibility of building wide problems decreases.

GreyGrey Technologies utilizes a phased approach in order to identify Indoor Air Quality problems rapidly and cost effectively.

Phase I - Initial Investigation
For tenant space - 1 day or less
For entire buildings - 1 to 4 days

  1. Identify complaints through preliminary discussion with occupants and building services personnel.
  2. Conduct a thorough inspection of HVAC Systems and occupied spaces.
  3. Utilize direct reading instruments for temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  4. Perform limited testing for highly suspect agents such as mold, bacteria, chemical, insects and dusts.
  5. Delivery of a formal report identifying problems and recommended corrective measures, OR recommendations for additional tests based on initial findings.

70-80% of the time we can identify the problems in the Phase I survey.

Phase II - In Depth Study

Where situations cannot be resolved by a Phase I evaluation (because the extent of the problem is greater than anticipated, or more testing and evaluation is necessary); a Phase II Investigation would be performed. Each situation is unique, but the following are some of the tests that could be performed.

  1. More extensive examination of the interior of the HVAC System, including opening ductwork and testing for molds, bacteria or chemicals.
  2. Testing for and analysis of airborne bacteria/fungi (Bioaerosols), Mycotoxins or Endotoxins.
  3. Microscopic assays - Air-O-Cells and Transparent Tape Imprints for mold, bacteria, fibers, dander or pollen.
  4. Particulate assays - microscopic identification of fibers, pollens, fungi or asbestos.
  5. Chemical assays - Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), specific chemicals and identification of unknown contaminants.
  6. Indoor allergens - dust mites, cat and dog dander, cockroach allergens, endotoxins.
  7. Delivery of final formal report identifying problems and solutions.

SPECIAL PROBLEMS IN HIGH RISE BUILDINGS AND COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

  1. BUILDING LOCATION: Heavy commercial or industrial area with carbon monoxide, diesel exhaust, dust and smoke stack emissions.
  2. AIR INTAKE LOCATIONS: Location of intake on ground level adjacent to loading docks or below ground intakes where water and mold can be present.
  3. VERMIN: Rats, mice, birds and pets who can spread germs and disease.
  4. BUILDING AGE: Over time, buildings and building systems deteriorate, become inoperable or accumulate debris.
  5. VARIED OCCUPANCY: Combining offices, health care facilities, day care facilities, restaurants, schools and studios all in the same building, each with different environmental needs, results in air quality differences for numerous tenants.

Sometimes the best solution is ongoing monitoring of the problem or potential problem. GreyGrey Technologies can design and implement a customized Indoor Air Quality management plan and conduct follow up investigations and periodic inspections.

The job of controlling Indoor Air Quality in buildings continues to get more difficult as new IAQ Health and Safety regulations are enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), OSHA and local governments. Although most buildings do not have severe Indoor Air Quality problems, even well run buildings can experience episodes of poor Indoor Air Quality.

If you believe your building has an Indoor Air Quality problem, let GreyGrey Technologies help you.


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