Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the quality of air maintained in buildings for the comfort of the people working and living in them. An indoor air pollution problem exists if the air circulating at home or the office is toxic. IAQ is part of the overall Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), which includes lighting, visual quality, and thermal comfort. IAQ is one of the health hazards in developing countries, often resulting in exposure to particulate matters when using wood, charcoal, dung, etc. for heating and cooking. Use of solid materials can cause acute lower respiratory infections in children and lung and heart diseases in adults. There are many sources of indoor air pollution such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products.  Some building materials and equipment (such as insulation, stove, furnaces, mold growth from wet carpet, chemical leakage, copiers, carbon monoxide from outside traffic, poorly maintained HVAC, cleaning products, furniture from pressed products, furnishings, central heating, office equipment, cooling system, and humidification device) can be pollutants as well. Radon, pesticides, and the like are outdoor pollution sources. The primary indoor pollution source is the release of hazardous gases or particles into the air. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollution. Poor indoor air quality at workplaces, schools, and offices can cause headaches, fatigue, problems concentrating, eye/nose/throat irritation, and other health problems. The EPA regulates air pollution and has guidelines for improving indoor air quality. OSHA does not have IAQ standards but does have ventilation standards for all buildings. OSHA’s general duty clause requires all employers to provide a safe workplace as well as follow the state’s Indoor Air Quality standards.

  1. Indoor Air Quality Maintenance/Improvement:
  • Develop a positive indoor air quality program and follow EPA and NIOSH guidelines.
  • Avoid any procedure that could cause indoor air pollution.
  • Water and maintained office plants regularly.
  • Do not smoke in the building – follow the smoking policy of the workplace or building.
  • Store food properly.
  • Dispose of garbage properly.
  • Do not block air vents.
  • Place large doormats at the entrance (outside and inside).
  • Use a vacuum with HEPA filters.
  • Avoid cleaners that include any kind of fragrance, ammonia, or chlorine.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Regularly maintain HVAC.
  • Identify specific IAQ hazards at the workplace.
  • If there is an indoor air quality problem notify your building manager.
    • Coordinate with building manager if there is a problem with ventilation system.