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University Conducts Indoor Environmental Quality Assessment in Response to Occupant Concerns

Universities and colleges are high-density spaces that experience constant traffic throughout the day. Many colleges hold their classes in older buildings that need to be regularly assessed. The administration of a well known university utilized G2 Consultants to conduct an Indoor Environmental Quality sampling to ensure the comfort of the students and faculty.

Why Was an Environmental Quality Assessment Necessary?

Regular occupants of the building reported health concerns. Although previously assessed in 2012, the administration felt it was necessary to reassess in response to the ongoing concern. The client contracted G2 to provide an independent and comprehensive analysis in conjunction with an analysis provided by a separate organization.

We conducted assessments for the exterior, roof, and general interior of the space to determine the basic indoor air quality.

Our team was then able to provide a thorough analysis of the air quality to the client with recommendations for continued maintenance.

What Were the Assessments and Findings?  

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

The levels for this test were within the recommended and established limits. The IEQ assessment monitors four basic indoor air quality factors:

  1. Carbon Monoxide (CO): The OHSA permissible exposure limit to carbon monoxide is 50 ppm during an eight-hour time-weighted average. The building measured between 0.0 to 0.4 ppm.
  2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): This assessment indicates the amount of outside air entering a building to identify the risk of indoor contaminant accumulation. The measured concentrations were well below the limit of no more than 700 ppm above outdoor air concentrations.
  3. Temperature: This test relies on the ASHRAE Standard which establishes a thermal comfort level. All recorded interior temperature readings were within the ASHRAE recommended range of 67-82 .
  4. Relative Humidity: This test also relied on an ASHRAE Standard to determine a comfort level. The measured relative humidity inside the building ranged from 35.6% to 42%, below the recommended upper limit of 65%.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Sampling

We collected four VOC samples over a two-hour period from varying locations of the building. The samples were then sent to a laboratory and cross-referenced against the EPA’s list of most common indoor air contaminants. The analysis determined that two VOC’s were present in one room, both well below the Occupational Safety and Health Division Permissible Exposure Limits.

Airborne Fungal Sampling

Nine indoor air samples were collected and contrasted against two outdoor control samples. The number of spores identified in the indoor samples was the same or less than the amount identified in the outdoor samples.

Particulate Monitoring

This assessment evaluates indoor particulate levels compared to outdoor control readings. Our team conducted this test using a direct-read instrument. The reading indicated a lower number of particulates indoors compared to outdoor readings.

Allergen Sampling

We collected an allergen sample from the ceiling tiles where there was evidence of rodent activity. This sampling alerted us to the presence of both rat and mouse allergens.

Additionally, a visual assessment revealed cracked walls, deteriorating building materials, moss and mold growth, staining, evidence of water intrusion, debris, and airway blockages.

What Did G2 Recommend?

Based on our field observations, we encouraged the university to partner with industry professionals to take action on the below concerns:

  • Roof maintenance: inspect and repair roof flashing and see if a warranty covers failing roof seams.
  • Wall maintenance: inspect and repair wall cracks and remediate mold growth from drywall.
  • Air quality: inspect and clear air intake and AC window units of debris.
  • Pest management/Remediation: remove rodent droppings from ceiling tiles and work with pest control to eliminate the rodent presence.

It is beneficial for large spaces such as universities and colleges to conduct routine environmental quality assessments to identify health risks that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Doing so ensures a building can be used for years to come and that the experience of users and subsequently the brand of the institution is not tarnished.

Do your facilities need an IAQ assessment or plan? Contact us. We’re here to help.

About the author: Noal Kraft
Noal is a Principal of 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.