"Indoor Environmental Quality," as the name implies, simply refers
to the quality of the air in an office or other building environments. Workers are often concerned that they have symptoms or health conditions from exposures to contaminants in the buildings where they work. One reason for this concern is that their symptoms often get better when they are not in the building. While research has shown that some respiratory symptoms and illnesses can be associated with damp buildings, it is still unclear what measurements of indoor contaminants show that workers are at risk for disease. In most instances where a worker and his or her physician suspect that the building environment is causing a specific health condition, the information available from medical tests and tests of the environment is not sufficient to establish which contaminants are responsible. Despite uncertainty about what to measure and how to interpret what is measured, research shows that building-related symptoms are associated with building characteristics, including dampness, cleanliness, and ventilation characteristics.
Indoor environments are highly complex and building occupants may be exposed to a variety of contaminants (in the form of gases and particles) from office machines, cleaning products, construction activities, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damaged building materials, microbial growth (fungal / mold and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. Other factors such as indoor temperatures, relative humidity, and ventilation levels can also affect how individuals respond to the indoor environment.
Understanding the sources of indoor environmental contaminants and controlling them can often help prevent or resolve building-related worker symptoms. Practical guidance for improving and maintaining the indoor environment is available.
Workers who have persistent or worsening symptoms should seek medical evaluation to establish a diagnosis and obtain recommendations for treatment of their condition.
CDC - Floods
Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes and Major Floods
U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Floods and Tornadoes
External link: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/flood-tornado-recovery.html
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
External link: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/midwestfloods.shtm
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Natural Disasters and Weather Emergencies
External link: http://www.epa.gov/naturalevents/flooding.html
search results on Indoor Environmental Quality
search results on IEQ and Mold
a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health
publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported
in whole or in part by NIOSH.
Building Air Quality
Building Air Quality Action Plan
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-123 (June 1998)
The Building Air Quality Action Plan is intended to be used in concert
with the more comprehensive Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building
Owners and Facility Managers (BAQ). (See below.) This resource meets the
needs of building owners and managers who want an easy-to-understand path
for taking their building from current conditions and practices to the
successful institutionalization of good IEQ management practices.
Building Air Quality: A Guide for
Building Owners and Facility Managers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 91-114 (December 1991)
In recognition of the need for practical indoor air quality advice for
building owners and facility managers, EPA and NIOSH worked jointly to
produce this written guidance on preventing, identifying, and correcting
indoor air quality problems.
Health Hazard Evaluations
NIOSH conducts investigations of possible health hazards in the workplace.
These investigations, called Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs), are conducted
under the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
and the authority of the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which authorize
the Secretary of Health and Human Services, following a written request
from employees, authorized representative of employees, or employers,
to determine whether any substance normally found in the place of employment
has potentially toxic effects in such concentrations as used or found.
Some recent HHE reports related to indoor air quality have been listed
below, but for a comprehensive listing, please search the HHE
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2005-0138-3004, International Marine Terminal, Scotia Prince Cruises and Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Portland, Maine PDF
only 1.0 MB (32 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2005-0112-2980, Taft Elementary School
Santa Ana, California PDF
only 1.0 MB (32 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2005-0290-2992, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, Durham, North Carolina PDF
only 1.9 MB (56 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2005-0234-2984 (and 2005-0033-2984), Liberty Central School District Liberty, New York PDF
only 1.5 MB (27 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2005-0167-2983, Indian River Memorial Hospital Center for Emotional and Behavioral Health Vero Beach, Florida PDF
only 1.4 MB (18 pages)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2003-0300-2993, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources - Webster Springs District Office, Webster Springs, West Virginia PDF
only 1,013 KB (49 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2003-0080-2905, Norwin Middle School East North Huntington, Pennsylvania PDF
only 367 KB (14 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA- 2001-0067-2896, Somerset
County Assistance Office, Somerset, PA. PDF
only 1.65 MB (121 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2001-0109-2835, Lac
Vieux Desert Resort and Casino, Watersmeet, Michigan PDF
only 991 KB (28 pages)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2000-0255-2868, Benefis Healthcare, Great Falls, Montana PDF
only 662 KB (44 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0168-2871, Nassau
Community College, Garden City, New York PDF
only 875 KB (62 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0091-2803, Horry
County Assessor's Office, Conway, South Carolina PDF
only 502 KB (24 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0268-2812, Southwest
Airlines - San Antonio Reservations Center, San Antonio, Texas PDF
only 374 KB (41 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0283-2823, Rehabilitation
Services Commission, Columbus, Ohio PDF
only 342 KB (22 pages)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0176-2829, The
Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
only 282 KB (27 pages)
Other NIOSH Resources and Topics
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-162 (September 1997) 8252 KB (224 pages)
This publication is a compendium of NIOSH research and recommendations
on asbestos. It updates and supercedes the NIOSH document Asbestos Publications
dated June 1992.
Guidance for Filtration
and Air-Cleaning Systems to Protect Building Environments
from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks
DHHS (NIOSH) Pub No. 2003-136
Provides preventive measures that building owners and managers can implement
to protect building air environments from a terrorist release of chemical,
biological, or radiological contaminants.
Guidance for Protecting
Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-139 (May 2002) 841 KB (40 pages)
This document identifies actions that a building owner or manager can
implement without undue delay to enhance occupant protection from an airborne
chemical, biological, or radiological attack. Includes information about:
what you can do; specific recommendations; things not to do; physical
security; ventilation and filtration; maintenance, administration, and
Occupational Research Agenda - Indoor Environment
The goal of the NORA Indoor Environment (IE) Team is to focus
and facilitate research, through broadly based multi-sector partnerships,
that will improve the health of workers in indoor environments.
Related NIOSH Topic Pages
NIOSH Interim Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers
This guide contains recommendations to help ensure that HVAC systems contaminated with flood water are properly cleaned and remediated to provide healthy indoor environments.
HCs are brief 1-2 page, user-friendly documents that describe control
techniques documented to substantially reduce hazardous exposures to workers
in a particular application/industry process.