Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Solutions for Healthy Living, Working, and Learning Building Environments
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) was an emerging concern to building owners, operators, managers, and tenants even before a global pandemic, and today the health implications of our indoor air is more relevant a topic than ever before. In schools, offices, multi-family buildings, hospitals, and healthcare facilities in particular, the public wants to be assured that their living, working, and learning environments are safe from environmental hazards and that steps have been taken to help reduce transmission risks of airborne illnesses and support their general wellbeing.
Hazardous environmental exposures and poor indoor air quality can cause health issues that include respiratory problems, headaches, cardiovascular problems, cancers, neurological and developmental problems, skin irritation, and reproductive issues. These are extremely concerning health and safety issues and ignoring them can carry major business consequences. Poor indoor air quality decreases worker productivity and increases stress, insurance costs, absenteeism, legal and financial liabilities, and the chances of forced evacuations or downtime, and broken or strained lease agreements.
Common reasons for poor indoor air quality include inadequate or poor ventilation and filtration, excessive moisture, indoor smoking, cleaning products, building materials and furnishings, poor maintenance of HVAC systems and local outdoor pollutants. As a result, these issues contribute to the buildup of indoor air pollutants and the spread of airborne illnesses, mold spores and other allergens, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, radon, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the EPA, levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels.
Depending on our findings, mitigation steps might include the removal of contamination sources, recommended changes to operational or maintenance practices, increased ventilation, improved filtration, and in some cases the addition of supplemental air cleaning devices.
Every building, building system component and air quality situation is unique, and ultimately hundreds of variables may need to be considered to effectively problem solve speciﬁc air quality concerns. Thankfully, Intertek’s team of architects, environmental engineers and industrial hygienists specialize in assessing indoor air quality issues and implementing custom, effective, cost-conscious solutions to maintain healthy indoor environments.
Intertek’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) audits, assessments, and investigations cover:
- Airborne Particulate Matter >10 microns (PM10) or PM2.5
- Airborne Metals/Lead-Based Paint Dust
- Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
- Combustion fumes (i.e., diesel and carbon monoxide)
- Mold and Mildew
- Comfort Parameters
Additional Specialty Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Solutions
WELL Building Standard Certification
The WELL Building standard provides a comprehensive certification of building design and operation to support occupant health and wellness. The WELL Health and Safety Rating gives building owners and occupants assurance that pathogen risk reduction best practices are in place. Intertek has a team of WELL Performance Testing Agents approved to perform WELL performance verification testing and inspection, and WELL Accredited Professionals, Industrial Hygienists and other experts who conduct air quality, water quality, lighting, acoustic and other performance testing in support of WELL certifications.
Similar to WELL, the FitWel certification system gives building owners and managers a complete framework for healthy building design and operation. Intertek assists clients with attaining FitWel certification by performing the required air and water quality testing.
LEED Air Quality Assessments
Intertek’s Industrial Hygiene experts perform the post-construction air quality testing required to earn the LEED Air Quality Assessment credit.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Resources
- Services Spotlight - Building Health & Wellness Services
- On-demand Webinar - Managing Indoor Air Quality and Mitigating Occupational Exposure
- Blog - Reducing GHG Emissions in the Built Environment
- Blog - Building for Occupant Health and Wellbeing
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Frequently Asked Questions
A: Indoor air quality can be affected by the following factors:
- Ventilation rates – Poor ventilation leads to higher concentrations of indoor pollutants.
- Filtration – Lower efficiency filters do not remove fine particulate matter from outside air and recirculated air, poorly fit filters allow pollutant to bypass them without being captured, and infrequently maintained filters will clog and impede air flow resulting in poor ventilation.
- Outdoor air quality – Outdoor air pollutants from industry, traffic, wildfires, and other sources, if not removed by high-efficiency filters, can result in poor indoor air quality.
- Indoor pollutant sources – Interior finishes (e.g. carpet and paint), fixtures and furniture (e.g. composite wood and upholstery), cleaning chemicals, and equipment (e.g. copy machines) can introduce pollutants to indoor air, including volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and ozone. Additionally, vacuum cleaners without HEPA filters can re-suspend particulate matter and other pollutants that have settled in carpets.
- Indoor moisture – Exterior leaks and interior condensation due to poorly designed or failed building enclosures, and interior leaks and condensation from plumbing and mechanical equipment can result in mold and mildew, which release spores that are allergens, respiratory irritants, and can lead to other more serious health impacts.
A: The primary causes of poor IAQ include:
- Inadequate design or poor maintenance of ventilation systems
- Inefficient or poorly maintained filters
- Local/regional outdoor air pollution
- Interior materials, equipment, and operation and maintenance practices that release pollutants
- Leaks and other indoor moisture control issues