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Four Important Indicators of Air Quality in Indoor Facilities

This past year, it seems as though the pandemic has made everyone more aware of the air we breathe. Particularly indoors, airborne pathogens can cause a whole range of problems–along with viruses, bacteria and mold in any indoor facility can also cause illness if not properly mitigated and managed.

When G2 Consultants performed an indoor environmental quality assessment for a medical facility in Oregon, we paid particular attention to the following four indicators to provide important insight into whether the air was safe for the facility’s occupants.

CO and CO2

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that has no color or odor. If undetected, it can cause serious illness or even death for facility occupants. Similarly, elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have been associated with “sick building syndrome,” including respiratory problems such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

At the Oregon medical facility, CO and CO2 were a few of the basic indicators that were measured–particularly in the facility’s operating rooms. The levels turned out to be below the the permissible exposure limit mandated by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA), the recommended limit established by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and other professional consensus organizations.

Interior Temperature

We’ve all most likely had the experience of working in a facility that is too hot or too cold. Optimal indoor temperature–or “thermal comfort”– has been shown to have a significant impact on the work performance of a facility’s occupants.

Our results at the medical facility showed that all recorded interior temperature readings were within the ASHRAE recommended range, with the exception of one operating room, which was slightly lower. This gave the facility the opportunity to adjust, and make the room more comfortable for the medical professionals working in the operating room.

Airborne Particulate Matter

Particulate matter (PM) is airborne pollution that can either be visible–like smoke, dust or soot–or invisible chemical compounds. Either source can have harmful effects on building occupants if breathed in for extended periods of time.

G2 performed direct-read measurements of airborne particulate concentrations in the medical facility’s operating rooms, and found the concentrations to be lower than the limits recommended by both the ASHRAE and the EPA.

Humidity Levels

If the air in an indoor facility is too humid, it can be a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and mold. Having appropriate ventilation is important for keeping humidity levels under control and within the acceptable range.

When G2 tested the humidity levels within the three operating rooms, all were found to be below the recommended upper limit published by the ASHRAE, as well as below the industry standard recommended range.

Have concerns about the air quality at your facility? Get in touch with a member of our team today. We are available to discuss your concerns and how we can help with your facility’s unique needs.

About the author: Noal Kraft
Noal is the Vice President of Operations at DKI/G2 Consultants Inc. With over 27 years of professional experience in the Industrial Hygiene and Health and Safety industry. He has worked on thousands of projects throughout the U.S.