Proactive Indoor Air Quality Surveys Save Budgets
As facility budgets tighten, managers are realizing the many benefits that money spent for proactive indoor air quality is a smart investment. Here is a simple comparison to exemplify the point. Indoor air quality investigations conducted in response to employee complaint or illness clusters cost $3.00 to $10.00 per square foot of space investigated compared to 2 to 10 cents per square foot for a proactive indoor air quality survey. Basically, proactive surveys can be conducted at 1/100th of the cost of an investigative survey that is conducted in response to an employee complaint. Not only is the initial dollar investment significantly less, but there is also a reduction in future liabilities such as emergency surveys, workers’ compensation cases and costs, response to employee complaints, illness clusters, maintenance time and costs and the most scarce resource – your time.
When conducted properly, proactive surveys identify issues such as broken system components, lack of filter changes and condensate pan maintenance (even though a contractor was being paid to provide those services), chilled water line insulation failure, mold growth, water intrusion, insufficient air flow, disconnected flex ductwork and more. Experienced indoor air quality scientists understand building systems and the potential impact of their problems and failures on the acceptability of indoor air quality as well as budgets.
What’s involved with a proactive indoor air quality survey? There are two approaches to these types of surveys. The first approach generally includes the use of direct-reading instruments to conduct a scan of readings at predetermined sampling points throughout the occupied space. When certain readings are outside acceptable guidelines, our scientists will assess the area and identify the cause. This enables conditions to be addressed accurately and rapidly, thereby eliminating a potential future issue.
The data collected by our scientists is entered into a database specific to your buildings. As additional data is entered from periodic surveys, the database will compare previous data to identify trends, which further helps our scientists to identify and eliminate potential issues.
The second approach to proactive indoor air quality is to conduct a detailed walk-through assessment of each space within a building. The assessment is conducted by a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) who uses previously gained knowledge of indoor air quality and building-related issues to visually identify potential problems with building systems and operations. In addition, the hygienist reviews HVAC equipment maintenance programs, water treatment, building design and system operations. Interestingly, no direct-reading instruments are used in the walk-through assessment and no samples are collected. This approach is a detailed assessment that identifies both current conditions as well as conditions that may develop.
It is important to point out that although investigative air quality surveys may resolve obvious current issues with the occupants of buildings, proactive indoor air quality surveys virtually eliminate indoor air quality concerns and complaints and their associated liabilities at a lower cost.