NIOSH Indoor Environmental Quality Investigation

The U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health conducts workplace investigations in response to indoor environmental quality complaints. Many IEQ problems can be solved with inhouse expertise. NIOSH, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has published a guide to provide help in solving these problems. This publication, "Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers", (available on-line in *.pdf format) provides practical advice for evaluating IEQ problems.

NIOSH investigators typically look at four main elements to determine whether there is an indoor environmental quality problem:

1. Pollutant sources: Is there a source of contamination or discomfort indoors, outdoors, or within the mechanical systems in the building?

2. The Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning System (HVAC) system: Can the HVAC system control existing contaminants and ensure thermal comfort? Is it properly maintained and operated?

3. Pollutant pathways and driving forces: The HVAC system is the primary pathway. Are the pressure relationships maintained between areas of the building so that the flow of the air goes from cleaner areas to dirtier areas?

4. Occupants: Do the building occupants understand that their activities affect the air quality?

NIOSH investigators then look at factors beyond air quality including physical factors, such as lighting, vibration, noise, ergonomic factors, and psychosocial aspects of the workplace.

  Record #104, revised 1/23/2001


Related Topics (click for further information)

1. Sources of Indoor Pollution in Schools
2. Why IAQ Is Important
3. Functions of an IAQ Coordinator


Related Case Studies

1. Top Ten Concerns for a Healthful School Environment
2. Waterloo District School Board Plant Operations
3. Durham District School Board Indoor Environment Procedures
4. ALA Indoor Air Quality Program for Oklahoma Schools

Primary Sources

1. Indoor Environmental Quality Fact Sheet


Related Resources

1. Building Air Quality
2. IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit
3. Indoor Air Quality Management Program
4. Steps to Activate the IAQ Management Plan (section 7)
5. The IAQ Management Plan (section 8)
6. Diagnosing IAQ Problems (section 11)
7. Solving IAQ Problems (IAQ Guide:section 12 )
8. Investigative Procedure for Indoor Air Quality
9. Guide to Improve Indoor Air Quality

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