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Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
November 5, 2018
Indoor Air Quality in an office often leaves much to be desired. Complaints of poor air quality resulting in headaches, dizziness, burning eyes, upper respiratory irritation, coughs, colds, bloody noses, are not uncommon even in new buildings that supposedly have well designed Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems.
It may be as simple as low-or high-humidity, low-or high-temperature but it may be something more significant such as accumulated dust or mold in the HVAC System that hasn’t been cleaned in 10 years.
Lack of outside make-up air can result in accumulation of whatever is in the air—carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, molds, cleaning agents, dust, dust mite allergens and paint fumes.
We are now coming to realize that vapor intrusion of chemicals underneath the building’s foundation may be getting into the breathing air in the building. This is especially true in buildings built on sites that were built on landfills, former factories, previous commercial buildings, and properties adjacent to such businesses as gas stations, dry cleaners, chemical plants, pest control companies, printing companies, plating plants, and miscellaneous factories. The source of vapor intrusion is generally from solvents and other organic chemicals. Since such chemicals evaporate when reaching air, they can leach their way through groundwater, soils, and even concrete foundations (concrete is actually porous) and evaporates into the lower floors of a building. Of course, they can also evaporate from outside sources through the soils into the air and come in through doors, windows and the HVAC system.
Such sources may result in adverse health effects from vapor intrusion. The ability to sample vapor below a building and perform similar tests inside the building and compare the two test sets has become easier with present sampling techniques. The sampling involves drilling into the building foundation to reach the underlying soil. A sealed probe is placed in the opening and attached to a vacuum cylinder (SUMMA CANISTER) and a sample drawn into the cylinder over a selected time (l hr, 9 hrs, 24 hours)
Whatever the source of IAQ problems and adverse health effects experienced by the building’s occupants, Atlantic Environmental has 40 years of experience in performing IAQ sampling that can assist in identifying the source of air quality problems and identifying practical solutions.
“An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality,” https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/office-building-occupants-guide-indoor-air-quality
“Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings,” https://osha.gov/publications/3430 indoor-air-quality-sm.pdf
“Indoor Air Vapor Intrusion Mitigation Approaches,” https://clu-in.org/download/char/600r08115.pdf
“Evaluating Vapor Intrusion Pathways-Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/docs/svi_guidance_508.pdf
Our primary service areas for Indoor Air Quality Sampling/Testing are: NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, (Boston) MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, (Chicago) IL, VA, IN, (Atlanta) GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, (Dallas, Ft Worth) TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.