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Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessment

It has been estimated by OSHA that 30% of non-industrial buildings in America have indoor air quality problems. No wonder IAQ assessments are one of the most frequently requested services Environmental Profiles provides our clients. We have conducted IAQ and mold evaluations of all types of living and working environments, including offices and institutional settings such as schools and hospitals.

Our approach involves integrating the expertise of professionals from many disciplines, including environmental, health & safety, industrial hygiene, HVAC & building engineers, contractors and building managers.

Our industrial hygienists conduct a physical site investigation and inspection, during which we collect information and data through interviews and observation regarding the building's operation, use, site(s) of complaints, etc.

Based on the findings of this initial inspection, if the situation warrants we collect data, including air samples, through the use of appropriate monitoring equipment.

We interpret and analyze the results of monitoring, based upon applicable standards and guidelines.

Based on our analysis, we issue recommendations, either written or verbally.

Our tiered approach to IAQ & mold assessments involves:

These are causes of some of our most frequent requests for IAQ assessments:


Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent moisture problems in buildings. Moisture problems can have many causes, including uncontrolled humidity. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Some of these changes have resulted in buildings that are tightly sealed, but may lack adequate ventilation, potentially leading to moisture buildup. Building materials, such as drywall, may not allow moisture to escape easily. Moisture problems may include roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under the building, and unvented combustion appliances. Delayed maintenance or insufficient maintenance are also associated with moisture problems in schools and large buildings. Moisture problems in portable classrooms and other temporary structures have frequently been associated with mold problems.

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold may cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. When mold growth occurs in buildings, adverse health problems may be reported by some building occupants, particularly those with allergies or respiratory problems. With this increased awareness to mold as a possible source of indoor air complaints, we are often asked to assess and when necessary recommend mold remediation. Our mold-related indoor air quality assessments focus on the use of physical inspections of key building areas and components for signs of water intrusion and visible mold growth. It is our experience that sampling may not be necessary. If visible mold is present, then it should be remediated, regardless of what species are present and whether samples are taken. It is important to remember that the key to mold control is moisture control.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

Over the last 30 years, the introduction of new technologies & synthetic materials, dramatic increases in the number of white-collar workers, and "tighter" energy-conserving building methods & materials are all factors that could have a bearing in the significant rise in complaints of SBS, or "Sick Building Syndrome."

SBS is a generic term used to describe a wide array of symptoms that may include nose, throat or eye irritation, dizziness, headaches and/or difficulty concentrating. If these symptoms are reported by a number of people working in the same building, cannot be associated with a definite cause, and are relieved once leaving the building or area, then SBS may be suspected.

Typically, one or more workers will complain of one or more of these symptoms, which can ultimately lead to the need for an investigation by qualified professionals.

Naturally, there is a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding the SBS question. NIOSH has linked SBS cases to poor ventilation, poor exterior air quality, electrical office equipment such as copiers, molds and other fungi, ozone, formaldehyde, tobacco smoke, dust, airborne bacteria & viruses. Problems in newer construction have been linked to VOC off-gassing from carpets and furnishings.

The serious quality-of-life, productivity, and legal repercussions associated with SBS demand the expertise of trained professionals in identifying and removing problems within the building or ruling out the building as the cause of symptoms. Environmental Profiles staff members have conducted extensive indoor air quality assessments in schools, commercial buildings, industrial workplaces, hospitals, athletic facilities, and many other types of building.

Building-Related Illnesses (BRI)

As opposed to SBS, BRIs are generally diagnosed medically through clinical investigation and are attributed to a known cause. They usually involve more than the discomfort associated with SBS. While they are relatively uncommon when compared with SBS, BRIs can carry a serious prognosis. They can bring on immediate symptoms or take a long time to develop, such as radon exposure leading to lung cancer. The 3 categories or BRIs are toxic illnesses (such as chemical poisoning), infectious diseases (such as Legionnaire's disease) and allergies (such as asthma).

In contrast, building-related illnesses are uncommon and by definition, are more serious in prognosis than mere discomfort. Physician diagnosis by clinical investigation of symptoms is the usual means of recognizing building-related illnesses. Building-related illnesses can have a long latent (or asymptomatic) period after exposure begins before symptoms are experienced, such as occurs with lung cancer after indoor radon exposure. Other categories of building-related illnesses, however, are associated with an immediate appearance of symptoms after exposure.

Because of the potential seriousness of many BRIs, it is essential to quickly detect the causes and plan for the remediation of any situation that can lead to BRI. Environmental Profiles has long experience in conducting indoor air quality assessments and follow-ups in virtually any environment imaginable.

Contact at (410) 740-9600 for more information on indoor air quality assessments.

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Environmental Profiles, Inc.

8805 Columbia 100 Parkway, Suite 100
Columbia, MD 21045

(410) 740-9600
(410) 740-9606 FAX

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