Concerns regarding Indoor Air Quality
Employees working in an IT technical support room in a school, had made reports of frequent eye irritations, dizziness, headaches and migraines. Their employer contacted us and requested that we carry out an assessment of the indoor air quality to see if this was the cause.
The property was a four storey period building which was currently being used as offices and educational facilities. The building is situated in the inner city of London with no major sources of industrial pollution in close vicinity. The building has an active extraction system fitted. The basement of the building was separated into a large number of storage rooms, photocopier room, toilets, laundry and two offices. The IT office is located in the basement and is occupied by 5-6 members of staff.
Conducting an assessment of the indoor air quality
There are many things we had to take into consideration when conducting the assessment, things such as; chemical contaminants, fungal contaminants, any moisture in the air/materials, ventilation and contaminant sources.
When our surveyor took samples of chemical contaminants, the results came back showing that volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde were present in the IT room. Although these were at a low concentration therefore would not represent a hazard to health. However this does suggest that the air quality in the IT room was poor and the air could be described as stale and full of unpleasant odours
So then we looked at fungal spore samples taken in the IT room. These showed us that the indoor concentration of fungal spores in the air was lower than the comparative background sample. This suggests that the indoor air quality with respect to fungal contamination is good.
Lastly we looked for evidence of any moisture within the air and building materials. However moisture mapping and further investigation revealed that the property was not suffering with any active leaks at the time of our investigation. The humidity profile in the property was normal and well within the comfort range for an office environment.
What did we suggest to improve indoor air quality?
The IT technical support room currently has no fresh air supply and natural ventilation is very limited. It is our surveyor’s opinion that the room is not suitable to be used as an office (5 person occupancy) without active fresh air supply. The office is surrounded by numerous sources of chemical contaminants which are not adequately controlled. So in order to ensure good air quality in the office it is strongly recommended to provide fresh air supply into the office. The fresh air should be drawn from the roof level of the building and not the internal yards which have numerous ventilation exhaust from toilets on upper floors. If the fresh air was drawn from the internal yards this could cause a host of other indoor air quality issue as the ventilation system would take in pollution from the ventilation exhausts from the toilets.