Get answers to some frequently asked questions about the hazardous materials targeted by our environmental consulting services

What is IAQ?

IAQ stands for Indoor Air Quality and is used to describe how the air inside a structure affects the health and comfort of a person.  It may include humidity, temperature, ventilation, mold or fungi, or exposure to certain chemicals.  There are no official OSHA standards for IAQ but there are workplace guidelines.

What causes the most IAQ problems?

The biggest problem for IAQ is usually related to inadequate ventilation, either not enough fresh air being allowed into the building or allowing contaminated air into the building.  Other IAQ problems include excess moisture which can cause mold and problems associated with remodeling or construction that release lead or asbestos into the air.  Other chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, ozone, and natural gas are among many that can contaminate indoor air.

How will I know if the air in my building is contaminated?

Odors are perhaps the easiest way to detect a problem. When a person first enters a building, damp or musty odors or even gas odors may be noticed.  In addition, if there are symptoms including headache, fatigue and respiratory issues affecting the workers, this may be an indication of a problem.

How does mold affect people?

Some of the health issues that are directly related to mold include eye irritation, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems.  People with allergies are often particularly sensitive to mold.

What is the most important aspect of stopping a mold problem?

Mold is not able to grow unless there is enough moisture present.  Determining and eliminating the source of moisture, such as a leak, is the first step in stopping mold growth.

What causes lead poisoning?

When lead is ingested or inhaled it can cause lead poisoning.  Lower levels can cause developmental issues and higher levels can damage the kidneys, nervous system and brain.  Lead poisoning is the most preventable childhood disease.

How do children contract lead poisoning?

Children who are in homes where lead paint has been used come in contact with dust that is created by peeling or chipping paint or by renovations involving areas that were painted with lead paint.  As children play on the floor the dust can get on their hands and eventually into their mouths.

I want to buy a house; how can I be sure that lead-based paint was not used in it?

Lead paint was used in many residential paints in homes built prior to 1978, so if you are purchasing a home older than that you should have an inspection or risk assessment to check for lead.

How could I be exposed to asbestos?

Asbestos fibers are inhaled and can become embedded in lung tissue.  Asbestos was used in many buildings and homes for many years.  There are regulations in place to help limit exposure.

Can I take care of IAQ problems myself?

Because of the dangers of people handling cleanup and remediation of certain IAQ problems improperly, it is always a good idea to seek expert assistance from licensed professionals for the testing, removal, and cleanup of problems that affect IAQ.  Both federal and state regulations must be followed, and most people don’t know those rules or have the proper equipment.