Indoor Air Quality

EHS and Management work together to solve indoor air quality problems. If you have an indoor air quality concern or complaint, follow these steps:

  1. Notify your supervisor and telephone the Facilities Management Department at 602-2368.
  2. If the problem is not resolved within a reasonable timeframe, you can contact Environmental Health and Safety.

Who is responsible?

Everyone on campus has responsibility for indoor air quality. Individual building occupants and departments, Facilities Management, Capital Projects and Environmental Health and Safety all play a role in ensuring good indoor air quality.

What can be done?

Building Occupants

  • Observe the locations of any sinks and/or floor drains in the work area (this includes looking under refrigerators and other equipment or furniture, which may have been placed over floor drains). If not used regularly, the traps could dry out and allow sewer gases to enter the room. Fill infrequently used fixtures with water at least every two weeks. If a fixture is no longer in use, contact Facilities Management to request it be capped off.
  • Clean work areas regularly. Remove excess papers, food crumbs and dust. If food or drink is spilled, clean it up immediately.
  • Rotting food frequently causes foul odors so check those desk drawers and old brown paper bags. Clean any cups, plates or other utensils used to prepare or consume food daily. Clean out microwaves and refrigerators (including the drip pan) at least once a month.
  • Control dust by having carpeting vacuumed regularly. Wet wiping desks and other furniture weekly can achieve additional dust control.
  • Keep all ventilation grills and ducts clear. Don't place furniture, boxes, posters or other items in locations where they will block airflow. 
  • Keep all exhaust ports and air inlets to electrical equipment clear. Overheating electronic equipment can produce irritating odors.
  • Ensure that plants are well-maintained and not overwatered. Overwatering can promote the growth of mold in the soil and on the plant or container (and drown the plant). Remove dead foliage regularly. Carefully follow directions on labels for fertilizers.
  • Use all cleaning and office products only as recommended on the label. Be aware that products with a citrus odor can be irritating to some people, so avoid their use if possible.
  • Whenever possible, use cleaning products without added fragrances.
  • Use perfumes, colognes, and scented lotions sparingly. What smells good to you may not smell good to your neighbor.
  • If you notice an odor, check with occupants in adjacent rooms and floors to determine if the problem is throughout the building or specific to your workspace. Ask if they are conducting any activities or know of any activities that might create a similar odor.

Departments

  • Ensure all employees and students have received the appropriate training regarding the handling and use of chemicals and products.
  • Ensure facilities are appropriate for the types of research and course work being done.
  • Ensure faculty and staff does not smoke inside buildings, or close to the building entrances or air intakes.
  • Process requests for assistance from Facilities Management or Environmental Health and Safety as quickly as possible.

Facilities Management

  • Ensure that all building systems are operating as intended. This includes ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the building envelope.
  • Carefully select products and processes used on jobs. This includes selecting products with low VOC's, alternative products with fewer hazardous chemicals and products without added fragrance when possible
  • Use products and chemicals only as intended and follow directions on the label. When products having volatile chemicals or strong odors are used, provide as much ventilation as possible and schedule work when the building is minimally occupied.
  • Notify building occupants when odor-creating work will occur.

Environmental Health and Safety

  • Provide consultation services and make recommendations when indoor air quality is a concern. You can contact Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Provide air monitoring if the consultation determines a need.
  • Work with Capital Projects, Facilities Management and Housekeeping to control processes that produce odors.