INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) is a broad term that describes occupant comfort in the built environment.  Where the term Indoor Air Quality characterizes the condition of the air inside a building, IEQ goes further and includes sound, vibration, lighting and other variables that can impact the comfort of building occupants.

Indoor Environmental Quality complaints are common in the workplace, and can be costly to a business if not properly addressed.  Worker grievances, whether founded or not, can reduce productivity, invite regulatory pressure and even litigation.  Common complaints from workers in the built environment include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Chronic or high frequency of upper respiratory illnesses
  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Dry skin
  • Rhinits
  • Allergy-like symptoms

These, and others, can be assembled into a group of medical symptoms called Building Related Illness (BRS).  The individual exhibiting these symptoms are said to have Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).  Typically these symptoms abate when the worker is away from the building.

Certain risk factors have be found to have a consistent or mostly consistent association with BRS.  These include:

  • Facilities with air conditioning
  • Workers with allergies
  • Job Stress
  • job Dissatisfaction
  • Workers with Asthma
  • Low ventilation rate
  • High worker density
  • Facilities with carpeting

There are many risk factors that have an inconsistent association with BRS, ranging from temperature, to dust, to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  G3 Group can quickly determine whether complaints are due to worker dissatisfaction issues, or if there are legitimate environmental concerns in the workplace that need to be addressed.

Sampling as a first response to IEQ issues rarely leads to an appropriate solution.  This only serves to drive the investigation costs up, and fill the report with meaningless laboratory data.

If legitimate environmental concerns are suspected, G3 Group will first form a hypothesis as to the likely contributors to the reported symptoms.  The next step is to test the hypothesis, potentially through field sampling and the use of direct-read instrumentation.  Once the samples are analyzed, and the results scrutinized, can a proper conclusion be given.