What Are You Breathing? The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Posted by Marcell Haywood on Nov 12, 2015 9:00:00 AM
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We spend a lot of time indoors, which means indoor air quality is paramount. So how do we recognize and eliminate pollution sources and create a facility maintenance indoor air policy?

Here are some ways to move from foul air to fresh air.

Air Pollutants

Air pollutants come in many different forms. The most common include asbestos, carbon monoxide, building and paint products, mold, and cleaning supplies. Inhaling such pollutants can cause infections, chronic lung diseases, and even lung cancer.

How to Reduce Exposure 

When using chemicals and cleaning supplies, it’s important to substitute hazardous materials with nontoxic alternatives. Furthermore, ensure employees wear appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, aprons, and even goggles or face shields.

If you believe there’s a potential pollutant in the space, identify the source, remove it, and make sure the ventilation system is working properly. 

Developing an Indoor Air Quality Policy

It’s important that facility maintenance companies have an indoor air quality policy in place for both maintenance and renovation activities. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recommends that individual plans are created for each renovation project and that the general policy is implemented for maintenance activities as applicable.

Here are some of their recommendations as outlined by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED):

  • Protect stored on-site and installed absorptive materials from moisture damage. 
  • Develop a plan to determine whether a flush out or air quality testing is needed after construction ends and all interior finishes are installed, but before occupancy.
  • Develop a procedure to, before occupancy, replace all filtration media with the final design filtration media.
  • Do not operate permanently installed air handling equipment during construction unless filtration media with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 8 with errata are installed at each return air grille and return or transfer duct inlet opening such that there is no bypass around the filtration media. 

Additional Recommendations

In addition to the above recommendations, you should also properly maintain your HVAC system. This means you need to develop an HVAC maintenance plan and preventative maintenance program to assure it’s operating properly. 

Facilities Net recommends that you include the following in your plan:

  • Scheduled inspection, cleaning and service. 
  • Calibration of control system components.
  • Replacement parts that at least meet design specifications. 
  • Proper procedure documentation. 


Indoor air quality is an important component of any facility. That’s why it’s crucial that you measure and maintain healthy air quality at all of your facilities. Not only will building occupants be healthier, you’ll breathe easier knowing that you’ve cleared the air.

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Topics: Facility Management

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