Indoor Air Quality
The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) section of the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Department investigates reported chronic problems with the quality of air inside of campus buildings, AFTER Facilities Maintenance cannot resolve issues with by simple manipulation of ventilation systems.
After much experience in investigating "chemical odor" complaints, we have determined that the source of 90% of ALL odors comes from uncapped sewer lines, dried out sink traps, or openings in the floor or wall between laboratories.
All sink drains have that S curve in the piping just under the sink. The purpose of that curve is to retain enough water so that it will act as a plug to prevent sewer gases from escaping. If a sink goes unused for some time, the water "plug" dries out. Run water into unused drains at least once a month. If you have an unidentified odor in the room, look for cup sinks under instruments and other lab apparatus. Also check for floor drains everywhere. Under counters, desks, freezers, etc.
There has been much erroneous fuss made in the press about so called "toxic" mold in the last few years. Most molds and fungi release some level of substance, which under confined conditions can be a strong irritant. A very small number of people may be clinically allergic to these substances. Remember, a small number of people can be seriously allergic to items as common as bread.
The origin of the fear was a report which initially and erroneously linked household mold to several infant deaths in Cleveland. The originators of the report have since reevaluated and retracted this assertion. It seems somehow that most of the media and litigating attorneys can only find the original faulty report to cite.
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