Many of us think that new buildings are the safest and the air quality is unquestionably clean. After all, the construction was not done with risky materials like lead paints and asbestos and they have not had time to accumulate mites, moulds, dirt, and dust. As a matter of fact, air conditioning systems are top notch, the windows, ventilation, and vents are functional and well thought through by the designers. In the absence of asbestos containing materials in the new building we think to ourselves such a building does not need to go through asbestos air monitoring during construction, all the rest is fine and no need to undertake indoor air quality testing.
Why Should I be Concerned about the Quality of Air in My New Building
According to air quality consultants, surprisingly, new buildings contain a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and other chemicals used in the manufacture of construction products installed such as carpets, paint, and tiles which emit chemicals into the indoor air that can be detected in the indoor air quality testing. Most of these new materials require time – approximately 2 weeks to 6 months – to de-gas. Some take longer.
Debris from Construction Materials
The activities during a construction process break down building materials into tiny particles which float in the air for a while. Some of these include fumes (eg. from sealants and adhesives) and sawdust. This does not only apply to new constructions but also to remodelling projects. Be cautious to identify any air respiratory irritations after doing any renovations or constructing a building. You can consider air quality testing services to ensure no traces of polluted air is present.
How to Identify Problems in Your Building?
We consider buildings to be ‘sick’ when 20% of the occupants have symptoms that indicate the availability of a quality of air that is below the recommended international guidelines. Symptoms may be experienced which may include headaches, itchy eyes, skin irritations, respiratory challenges, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. You must observe these symptoms for a period of two weeks to raise a concern.
Given that these symptoms are also common in situations with other factors you would need thorough professional testing to reveal if there are serious levels of indoor air contaminants. Air quality consultants who are appropriately qualified and certified will carry out observations, inspections, and testing in order to understand the real cause of the problem and potential causes of the symptoms.
Steps to Take if You Suspect Poor Indoor Air Quality
If you have concerns about the quality of air in a building recently repaired or added constructions or a new building then you need to find professional help. A new construction needs to undergo appropriate representative air testing of several indoor air quality parameters specifically volatile organic compounds (VOC) and formaldehyde to ensure those levels are acceptable and unlikely to cause a risk to health. Additional constructions and repairs are no better – they can equally compromise the air quality. As a building owner, building manager or controller of a workplace, you need to get competent air quality consultants to do the relevant testing in your building.