Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Fungi

The University of Ottawa's ORM group works with Physical Resources to remedy IAQ problems and hopefully prevent new occurrences. How does an IAQ problem get solved? Health Canada and ASHRAE have standard protocols that the University follows for solving indoor air quality problems.

ORM has IAQ trained personnel on staff to provide information as well as manage IAQ problems towards a resolution. Only trained personnel is authorised to perform investigations and provide recommendations.

Who should you contact if you perceive an IAQ problem?

There is a specific order that must be followed according to Ontario Ministry of Labour laws. If the problem persists, you can escalate your request to the next person.

  1. Your Supervisor. The have a responsibility to investigate H&S issues you bring to your attention. They will do a needs assessment and pass on the request to ORM if they perceive a problem that is outside of their control. 
  2. If you feel ill, the Assistant Director, Employee Health, Wellness and Leave can be contacted at ext. 1472. 
  3. Your H&S Committee employee representative. Their role is to work with the University in addressing H&S concerns.
  4. ORM can be contacted if the above mechanisms are not working. Their trained air quality personnel will investigate.

The solutions to IAQ problems can be complex. However, the cause of such problems in the workplace and home can easily be traced to these common issues:

  • Odours from tobacco, perspiration, and perfume.
  • Dust in carpets, blinds, workspaces, light fixtures, and paper clutter.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from strong cleansers, solvents, fresh paint, new plastics, glues, inks, and perfumes.
  • Fungi, moulds, and bacteria occur naturally, but when provided with a moist environment they can flourish indoors and cause problems. Over watered plants, poorly maintained humidifiers, and pooled window condensation provide microbe friendly environments.
  • Ventilation rates. This is diagnosed through CO2 (a by-product of respiration) analysis. The CO2 serves as an indicator for the air exchange in a building.
  • Comfort level parameters such as temperature and humidity. Each person in a workspace will have different tolerances for these parameters.

Physical Resources monitors temperature, humidity and other parameters in most buildings. Adjustments to the ventilation system are automatic and aim to meet a common comfort level.

IAQ Assessments

IAQ_investigation_process

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