Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality Procedures and Guidelines

Austin Community College is committed to developing and maintaining a sustainable and environmentally responsible mode of operation for its employees, students and visitors. Austin Community College's commitment to environmental responsibility is intended both to educate the college community about environmental issues and to avoid or minimize any adverse impact on the environment from Austin Community College operations

Pursuant to the authority granted to the Board under Sections 385.001-385.003 of the Texas Health and Safety Code to establish voluntary guidelines for indoor air quality in school district buildings and the guidance provided by Section 297.1-297.6 of the Texas Administrative Code, Title 25 Health Services, the following procedure is promulgated.

The purpose of this procedure, is to ensure buildings owned or leased by Austin Community College are operated and maintained in such a way that indoor air quality issues are addressed and resolved as a part of maintaining a healthful environment for the college's students and staff.

This procedure is designed to help ensure all college employees and students are protected from the effects of poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Austin Community College is a conscientious employer and strives to promote increased morale, productivity and lowered absenteeism, all of which can suffer if poor air quality conditions are allowed to occur and persist. Austin Community College is committed to providing a program of regular testing, coupled with the investigation of any persistent air quality complaints, to identify and correct any air quality problems.

IAQ Testing for all of Austin Community College's leased or owned buildings is done on an annual basis. Additional testing will be performed if multiple air quality complaints occur at any ACC campus after the annual tests. For buildings that ACC utilizes, but does not own or lease, the building owner will be notified of any air quality complaints to allow for correction by the owner of the building.

Responsibilities

The ACC President is the college Official ultimately responsible for the health and safety of ACC's employees and students. The ACC College President shall show visible support for safety as a value at ACC, through funding and appropriate staffing in support of the ACC Indoor Air Quality Program.

The ACC Executive Team / Administrators are responsible for ensuring implementation of the Indoor Air Quality Program within their areas of responsibility, showing visible support for the Indoor Air Quality Program and for ensuring the health and safety of the department's employees and ACC students.

The Dean, Unit Director or Department Chair has primary authority and responsibility to ensure departmental implementation of the Indoor Air Quality Program and to ensure the health and safety of the department's employees and ACC students.

The Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office administers and coordinates the Indoor Air Quality Program for ACC. Duties of the EHS and Insurance Office include, but are not limited to:

  • Assist areas/units with all phases of implementation and compliance with this program and provides any needed training.
  • Acts as the ACC interface with environmental services contractor and mold remediation contractor.
  • Ensures concerns/complaints are addressed in a timely manner.
  • Ensure communications concerning Indoor Air Quality are provided to appropriate personnel and done in a timely manner

Implementation

College staff awareness at each campus can produce early warnings of indoor air quality problems. The first alert may come from employee complaints that may be based on a real or a perceived increase in colds, allergies, headaches, drowsiness, or general discomfort. These complaints should be directed to the employee's supervisor or department head. Students can also notify the Campus Manager of any concerns they may have. The supervisor/Campus Manager should conduct a preliminary interview to ascertain the general nature of the situation, see page 4. The Indoor Air Quality Preliminary Interview Questionnaire is available on the ACC Forms Database. The completed questionnaire should be e-mailed or faxed to the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office. The information gathered will serve to maximize the efficiency of a site visit by the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office and Buildings and Grounds staff, if necessary.

The employee's supervisor or department head will contact the Campus Manager. The Campus Manager will then contact the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Manager or their designated representative. If the Campus Manager is not available, he/she shall contact the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Manager directly. A site visit and inspection will be conducted by the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Manager and Buildings and Grounds staff to help target the location(s) for possible air sampling and to help define the potential sources of real or perceived discomfort. The Buildings and Grounds staff will conduct a search for contaminants and the ventilation system will be examined for properly functioning fans, dampers, properly maintained filters, etc. Then, if it is determined to be necessary, air sampling may be conducted utilizing a variety of sampling devices and methods to test for specific components and contaminants.

Scope of The Annual Indoor Air Quality Testing

Direct-reading instruments will be used for some of the air samples. Other samples will take longer to analyze because they will be taken to a laboratory.

Ambient air in the buildings will be tested for carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity. These tests were chosen because they are the most reliable indicators of air quality. Additional tests for molds may be conducted in certain areas. Areas in each building also may be tested for ozone or other gases.

Control of potential pollutants at the source is thought to be the most effective strategy for maintaining good Indoor Air Quality. Again, promoting awareness of the need to protect the environment from potential contaminants and the need to alert supervisors and department heads if contaminants are discovered is critical to this program. Providing proper ventilation is considered the second most effective approach to insuring adequate Indoor Air Quality. Poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other pollutants. Carbon dioxide is produced by normal human respiration, and often accumulates in enclosed areas. Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless gas and is often responsible for the "stuffy" feeling people get in poorly ventilated classrooms and work areas. Carbon dioxide in indoor air easily can be measured and compared to amounts in outside air. Therefore, the quantity found in indoor air is considered an excellent indicator of indoor air quality and testing for carbon dioxide will remain part of the IAQ program.

Additional testing may be conducted for other pollutants. These tests will be run based on the investigator determining the probability of an existing problem. Each campus/area may be tested for the following (this list is not all inclusive):

  • Formaldehyde
  • Mold and mildew
  • Total hydrocarbons
  • Combustible gases
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Total dust and asbestos
  • Poly test for different gases
  • Specific compounds pertaining to particular site

Record Maintenance

The ACC Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office will maintain records to monitor all persistent IAQ complaints and their resolution(s).

The ACC Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Office will retain, as a minimum, the three most recent annual IAQ studies for each campus and the results of any supplemental testing for a minimum of three years.

A synopsis of the results of all annual IAQ studies and any supplemental testing will be posted on the Environmental Health Safety and Insurance Indoor Air Quality web page.

Preventative Maintenance

A very important part of any Indoor Air Quality program is the implementation and management of a Preventative Maintenance program for building HVAC systems.

Building and Grounds Maintenance group will be responsible for identifying, establishing and maintaining a HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program.

Standards Used for Indoor Air Quality Testing

Ambient air in the buildings was tested for carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity and carbon monoxide. These tests were chosen because they are the most reliable indicators of air quality.

Criteria for determining the indoor air quality can be separated into two basic categories -
comfort and health. Temperature, relative humidity (RH), and carbon dioxide (CO2) are basic IAQ measurements that have a direct impact on perceived comfort, while carbon monoxide (CO) is measured for human health purposes.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure. Additional information on carbon monoxide, including sources of carbon monoxide and health effects.

All testing is conducted in general accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards 55-2004 (for Thermal Environmental conditions for Human Occupancy) and 62.1-2004 (for ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality).

Control of pollutants at the source is the most effective strategy for maintaining good Indoor Air Quality. Adequate ventilation is considered the second most effective approach to providing adequate Indoor Air Quality. Poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide, upon other pollutants. Carbon dioxide is produced by normal human respiration, and may accumulate in building spaces. Carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless gas. Carbon Dioxide can be easily measured and compared to outside air therefore is considered an excellent indicator of indoor air quality.

Below is a list of standards and guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) used for Indoor Air Quality. These are used to help define minimum values or acceptable performance and maintenance of indoor environments for occupied buildings.

  • Temperature – Summer: 73 to 79°F (ASHRAE 55-2004)
  • Temperature – Winter: 68 to 75°F (ASHRAE 55-2004)
  • Relative Humidity (RH): 20 to 65% (ASHRAE 55-2004)
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO): less than 9 parts per million (NAAQS/EPA)
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): less than 700 parts per million above outdoor air levels.(ASHRAE 62.1 – 2004)

ASHRAE standard 55-2004
ASHRAE standard 62.1-2004

Indoor Air Quality District Wide Annual Testing

The 2009 report was received from Baer Engineering on 1/27/2010. EHS & I personnel have reviewed the report for results and noted any that are outside of the acceptable ranges. EHS & I Office will be working with Buildings and Grounds, HVAC team and Facilities and Construction, in a cooperative effort, to develop a plan to correct areas that are outside acceptable ranges. These actions may include: checking units to ensure they are operating properly, repairing or replacing units, adding additional fresh air makeup or other appropriate actions as needed. Some of the actions may be short term, while others may require a long term plan. The first meeting of this group is scheduled for February 8. This web site will be updated as the plan is developed and actions are taken.

In reviewing the report, staff identified that there were several buildings that were missing from the survey. We are currently working with the engineering firm to complete the surveys in these buildings. This information will be posted on the web once the testing is completed and the report is received from the vendor.

We currently have the following projects underway to improve the indoor air quality on our campuses:

  • Northridge Building 2000 – improvement of chemistry and biology ventilation with additional fresh air makeup capacity to Bldg. 2000.
  • Rio Grande – air balancing study underway by Facilities.
  • Rio Grande Annex – additional electrical installed
  • RVS Building C Welding Area – additional ventilation and exhaust installed, shade cover on west side of building install
  • Pinnacle – upgrade of HVAC system. This will be a long term project and being done floor by floor.

 

Mold

There are many types of mold. Most typical indoor air exposures to mold do not present a risk of adverse health effects. Molds can cause adverse effects by producing allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions). Potential health concerns are important reasons to prevent mold growth and to remediate existing problem areas.

The onset of allergic reactions to mold can be either immediate or delayed. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms such as runny nose and red eyes.
Additional information on mold can be viewed in OSHA's A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace or EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.

Moisture control is the key to mold control. When water leaks or spills occur indoors - act promptly. Any initial water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned promptly. A prompt response (within 24 - 48 hours) and thorough clean- up, drying, and/or removal of water-damaged materials will prevent or limit mold growth. Please contact Buildings and Grounds or the Campus Manager to report a water leak.

If you suspect a problem with mold, please contact the EHS & I Office for assistance. See Indoor Air Quality Procedures and Guidelines for reporting

ACC utilizes licensed, certified mold remediation and mold assessor contractors. ACC personnel are not permitted to remediate mold. The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) regulates the licensing and certification of persons performing mold assessment and remediation activities.

ACC utilizes guidance from Center for Disease Control, the EPA and our contracted environmental services engineering firms for mold management. If mold is present, we remediate. We do not do routine "sampling for mold". Rather, our approach is to remediate if visible mold is present. Clearance sampling once the remediation is completed is done per the TDSHS regulations.

As stated by Center for Disease Control

"If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth."

Non-Routine Indoor Air Quality Sampling

Local Area Exhaust Ventilation

Additional Information Links

Document Review History

Created: May 2005

Reviewed March 2015