Do you know what IAQ stands for, let alone how it can affect the health of facility occupants and energy efficiency?
You likely hear the term indoor air quality (IAQ) frequently when it comes to facility management, but do you recognize exactly what this means for building occupants and the overall bottom line? IAQ refers to air quality within and around buildings and structures, commonly as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 90% of our time is spent indoors. Now think about the occupants in your buildings and imagine invisible pollutants, debris, and bacteria in the air and how those can impact their health.
Facility managers face a lot of pressure when it comes to maintaining IAQ and implementing proper practices and prevention measures—and for good reason. The impact of poor IAQ hits on many factors important to facility management. Two to focus on include the health and safety of occupants and a building’s energy efficiency.
There are immediate and long-term health effects from poor IAQ. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states these can range from minor irritations, such as headaches and dizziness, to serious issues such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
A big contributor to the increased pressure on facility managers is the recent deadly outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease throughout the country and the approval of ASHRAE Standard 188-2015. The disease is caused by Legionella bacteria that can grow within a building’s water system and spread via droplets of water in the air. Cooling towers are one of the more common sources of Legionella. And while cooling towers are primarily located outside, the CPSC says the contaminants can enter a building through ventilation systems, door openings, windows, and other similar areas. The ASHRAE standard puts a greater amount of responsibility on facility management to take proper steps to inspect and maintain systems to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.