The quality of the air we breath is of great importance to our health. Air quality in buildings depend upon many things, including but not limited to the quality of the outside air, the age of the building, the condition of the air conditioning system, and the amount of fresh air that is introduced to the building. Molds, fungi, dusts and vapors can find their way into buildings over a long duration or quickly, causing discomfort and even sickness and disease.
For this reason, we must be on the lookout for factors that may develop into air quality problems. Good maintenance is generally the key to good indoor air quality. Keeping the air conditioning and vents clean and in proper working order is important.
Short term issues can develop from maintenance activities that use chemicals with a strong odor. For example a complaint occurred where a building was being sealed with a silicon solution, and the vapors of the silicon mixed with a paint thinner type mixture and entered the building intake ventilation and caused problems for the occupants.
Sometimes even seemingly innocuous air contaminants can cause problems for people who are allergic to the specific contaminants. Each individual has their own personal sensitivity level to individual chemicals. Some people become sensitized to certain chemicals and other materials in such a way that the slightest contact will result in severe reactions.
If you suffer symptoms that appear to be associated with a particular location or activity, it may be necessary to perform an air quality investigation to determine if the problem is connected to the location or activity. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety is available to assist you in these matters. Feel free to call our office at 8-5640 if you need our assistance.
Where one must work in an environment, either indoors or outdoors, where the air quality is not acceptable, corrective action should be taken. As a temporary measure, air purifying respirators are available for workers who must stay in the atmosphere. This type corrective action should be used in a temporary or transient situation. Where someone must work continuously in such conditions, alterations to the environment should be made if practicable. Such alterations may include ventilation, enclosure, or remote operations.
If you need assistance with any problem related to air quality that your supervisor or building coordinator cannot correct, please call the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. If you need training on proper respiratory protection to be used for a particular job, feel free to call us for assistance. Respiratory protection and other requirements for various tasks that are covered by OSHA standards can be found in the OSHA standards by accessing the following: