Cleaning Up Indoor Air Pollution

Key to fixing problems in the indoor air at work are these steps:

  1. Identify the source(s) of the problem.  Many sources can be removed or kept out of the workspace once identified.  However, several sources may combine to become a more serious problem together than they are separately.  
  2. Remove the source of the problem. Depending on the source, this can be easy (for example, remove the garbage) or may take more work (for example, switch chemicals). Clean damaged or dirty materials. Remove and replace materials too saturated or damaged to be adequately cleaned. For example, drywall or carpeting that has been flooded will likely need replacing rather than just cleaning. 
  3. Make sure the ventilation system is working correctly and that air flow is not blocked.  Inadequate ventilation is one of the most common causes of problems with indoor air in a workplace.1

For more information about solving indoor air problems, check out these tools available online.  They are designed to help building professionals investigate and solve indoor air problems in the workplace. 

  • To download the free computer model IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, click here.
  • For a technical guide to investigating problems from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, click here.
  • To search for similar cases on the Health Hazard Exposure database from the National Institute for Occupational health and Safety (NIOSH), click here.  NIOSH also conducts free investigations of some health hazards.


 

1. U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Indoor Environmental Air Quality: Building Ventilation. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/BuildingVentilation.html. Accessed November 21, 2009.