May 4, 2007, Newsletter Issue #36: Air Quality Problems Can Lead to Health Complaints

Tip of the Week

Commercial HVAC systems have a big job. They do not just heat and cool buildings, they also filter and clean indoor air. Mold, radon, secondhand cigarette smoke, cleaning chemicals, pollen, even perfume can be indoor pollutants. Problems with indoor air quality can lead to health concerns, discomfort by employees and the public, and sickness and claims for workers' compensation. Here are some tips for troubleshooting air quality problems with commercial HVAC systems:

* First, gather facts and review the situation. Who is affected by the air quality problem? Where is the problem? When did it occur?
* Identify environmental factors that may be related to the problem. Search for moisture or water damage.
* Inspect air flow pathways, ventilation and heating and cooling systems.
* Interview the building's occupants about their concerns and observations. Encourage people who say they are experiencing medical problems to see a doctor.
* Inspect the area that is the source of complaints. Does it look dirty? Cleaning carpets, furniture and surfaces may get rid of dust and other irritants.
* Evaluate whether the outdoor air is a source of problems. Is the HVAC system's intake air flow near vehicle traffic?
* Check your HVAC system for dust, dirt or mold growth.
* Recognize when you need the help of a professional. Sometimes it is necessary to hire an outside professional to investigate indoor air quality problems that you and your maintenance staff cannot solve alone.

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