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Medical Facility Conducts Industrial Hygiene Assessment in Laboratory

One of our Portland, Oregon clients moved into a medical facility and, after four months of occupation, noticed transient odors. The medical facility recently underwent a complete renovation, including an upgraded HVAC unit servicing the laboratory. Transient odors are a cause for concern, as specific airborne contaminants can have adverse effects on laboratory processes. VOCs can also negatively impact employee health and performance as well.

Our team provided industrial hygiene services through long-term area sampling to learn more about their indoor air quality and identify any potential contaminants.

What Were the Assessments?

There are two main components of the Industrial Hygiene Assessment: VOC Sampling and PID (Photoionization Detector) Monitoring. We performed these assessments over a seven-day period in four different locations to gather information on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Tentatively Identified Compounds (TICs).

Samples were collected in the laboratory, office, inside the air handling unit (AHU), and in the outside air intake of the facility. A variety of sample locations helped the teams expose any abnormalities within the laboratory space.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Sampling

Our team used six-liter SUMMA canisters to detect airborne VOCs. SUMMA canisters monitor for a wide variety of VOCs, and are capable of detecting organic compounds down to the ppb (parts per billion) range.

The canisters are connected to an air flow intake regulator to collect a full six-liter air sample. At the end of the seven-day sample period, we checked the pressure gauge to ensure the entire sample was collected. We then removed the regulator and shipped the SUMMA canisters to the laboratory for analysis.

PID Monitoring

Direct-read photo-ionizing detectors (PID) monitors were used in conjunction with the VOC sampling to provide a conclusive air quality analysis. While VOC Samplings only offer total concentration levels, PID readings can determine peak values and times.

PID monitors detect non-specific VOCs. Most importantly, they are capable of data-logging over extended periods of time, logging data in one-minute and five-minute windows. Our associates utilized a MiniRAE 3000 meter for one-minute intervals and a ppbRAE3000 meter for the five-minute intervals.

Findings

The VOC Sampling revealed that various compounds were present in all of the samples collected.

PID measurements were taken in the laboratory in May between the 11th and 18th and then again between the 18th and 25th. May 23rd indicated the highest reading, which was likely caused by the chemicals isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and toluene. We observed these peak values in the laboratory during the late morning to early afternoon hours.

What Were the Recommendations?

After providing analysis, we recommended that the client thoroughly review the list of VOCs and TICs and make an effort to identify their sources. Many of these compounds appeared in the AHU, outdoor air intake, and office samples, indicating the cause could be from the outside air or from materials and laboratory processes.

We recommended that the client work with all necessary employees to identify the specific processes that take place during peak VOC reads. Direct-read VOC findings showed peak times were during the late morning and early afternoon. We encouraged all laboratory employees to monitor and log transient odor observations, making sure to include the time of day and a description of the smell.

How G2 Industrial Hygiene Assessment Services Support Safety and Health Standards

Monitoring and eliminating VOCs found within medical facilities is essential to ensure accurate results from laboratory processes. G2’s Industrial Hygiene Assessment services help identify potentially hazardous conditions and facilitate the general compliance of safety and health standards. With thorough testing, facilities can control their indoor air quality and take preventive action to maintain productive and safe work spaces.

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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.