Improving Indoor Environmental Quality
are some reliable ways to improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
environmental quality, sometimes called indoor air quality (IAQ),
is a growing problem in today's facilities. According to an article
titled "10 Ways to Improve Indoor Environmental Quality Immediately,"
published in Services Magazine, October 2001, IEQ issues have risen
sharply since the 1970s, when organizations began building virtually
airtight offices to save on energy consumption. Workers have reported
a variety of IEQ-related symptoms to the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) including headaches, fatigue,
itching or burning eyes, skin irritation, nasal congestion, irritated
throats and nausea. Sources may be dust, smoke, renovation or cleaning
products. Often, HVAC units transmit contaminants throughout buildings.
A new study recommends an organized cleaning program for minimizing
IEQ problems. The study was conducted by the Research Triangle Institute,
the EPA's Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office, and the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collaboration with
the building service contractor, commercial cleaning and carpet
industries. Following are 10 ways in which your professional cleaning
service or program can help improve your IEQ:
- Keep walkways and entries clean. Sweep, dust, vacuum or use
a leaf blower to remove soil and debris.
- Use mats to trap soil at entries. Mats reduce the quantity of
particles that enter traffic areas and build up, eventually becoming
- Clean shoes at entries. Cleaning, removing, or leaving shoes
at the entry reduces fine particles containing lead.
- Use high quality vacuum equipment. A quality, durable upright
vacuum with a brush is essential. The Carpet and Rug Institute's
(CRI) Green Label program identifies commercial vacuum cleaners
that meet carpet industry standards.
- Use high efficiency vacuum filter bags. High efficiency, HEPA-type
double-lined vacuum filter bags that filter out 99% of particles
down to one micron or less in size are highly recommended.
- Vacuum frequently. Increase the frequency of vacuuming to remove
soils before they sift downward and become embedded in the carpet
- Use HVAC filters. Quality reusable electrostatic filters for
HVAC systems have acrylic rods that vibrate and create a static
electricity that charges soil particles, thereby attracting them
to the filter. Filters should be removed and flushed free monthly.
- Clean the carpet. Professional cleaning compounds lift and suspend
fine particles of soil. Then, careful extraction using hot water
flushes them from carpet fibers. Carpet cleaning should follow
the procedural guidelines of the IICRC S-001 Carpet Cleaning Standard.
- Clean other soft surfaces. Clean upholstery, drapery, bedding,
and other fabric surfaces and wash linens weekly. The objective
is to remove the maximum amount of soil with the least damage
to the fiber.
- Control moisture and humidity. Dust mites and mold are the two
most common allergens present in higher humidity climates. Studies
show the dust mite infestation will be eliminated if the relative
humidity of the building is maintained below 50%. This will also
prevent mold growth, which requires humidity of at least 70%.
Source: Services Magazine, October, 2001.