Indoor Air Quality

Overview

Indoor Air Quality is the quality of breathable air in and around buildings as it relates to human health and comfort. Many government and independent agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognize that the quality of indoor air can have significant health effects if not monitored and maintained to be safe. There are many causes of poor indoor air quality. Many issues can be easily fixed by adjusting a thermostat, conducting preventative maintenance on air-handling systems or simply keeping the office clean from dust and sources of odor. Some issues, however, require a more extensive investigation of the surrounding areas and infrastructural systems to determine the cause.

NIOSH has found that the most common sources of indoor air quality issues are the following:

  • Inadequate ventilation - 52%
  • Contamination from inside building - 16%
  • Contamination from outside building - 10%
  • Microbial contamination - 5%
  • Contamination from building fabric - 4%
  • Unknown sources - 13%

Health Effects

Some related health effects can include mild to severe allergy-like symptoms such as, irritation of the eyes, mouth, throat or nose and headaches, dizziness, or fatigue. Other effects could include developing a respiratory disease from continuous exposure to unhealthy air. With a wide range of causes and potential health effects, it is critical to keep all indoor air safe for its occupants.

RIT Program

RIT’s Indoor Air Quality Program works to keep indoor air at the highest possible quality through various forms of monitoring and preventative maintenance to our facility’s infrastructure. The program stresses that everyone at RIT has a stake in indoor air quality and is encouraged to report issues or concerns to Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), RIT Facilities Management Services (FMS) or RIT Housing. These three departments are the main forces that drive this program and they will work together to resolve issues brought to their attention.

RIT FMS is responsible for the maintenance and repair of air handling systems in all academic and residual dorm buildings. RIT Housing is responsible for the same operations in RIT apartments and the RIT Inn. Environmental Health & Safety is the administrator of the program and will assist either department in determining the cause and/or potential solutions to indoor air quality issues.

Applicable Guidelines

OSHA Indoor Air Quality - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/indoorairquality/

EPA Indoor Air Quality - https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq

EPA Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers - https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/iaq.pdf

 

Contact the RIT Environmental Health and Safety Department with any questions at (585) 475-2040.