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EPA Building Air Quality Guide-1991

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Diagnosing IAQ Problems 45 Yes Diagnosing IAQ Problems The goal of the diagnostic building investigation is to identify and solve the indoor air quality complaint in a way that prevents it from recurring and that does not create other problems. This section describes a method for discovering the cause of the complaint and presents a "toolbox" of diagnostic activities to assist you in collecting information. Just as a carpenter uses only the tools that are needed for any given job, an IAQ investigator should use only the investiga- tive techniques that are needed. Many indoor air quality complaints can be resolved without using all of the diagnostic tools described in this chapter. For example, it may be easy to identify the source of cooking odors that are annoying nearby office workers and solve the problem by controlling pressure relation- ships (e.g., installing exhaust fans) in the food preparation area. Similarly, most mechanical or carpentry problems prob- ably require only a few of the many tools you have available and are easily accom- plished with in-house expertise. The use of in-house personnel builds skills that will be helpful in minimizing and resolving future problems. On the other hand, some jobs may be best handled by contractors who have specialized knowledge and experience. In the same way, diagnosing some indoor air quality problems may require equipment and skills that are complex and unfamiliar. Your knowledge of your organization and building operations will help in selecting the right tools and deciding whether in- house personnel or outside professionals should be used in responding to the specific IAQ problem. 6 Start (reason for concern) Initial walkthrough ■ preparation ■ visual inspection ■ talk with occupants and staff Collect additional information about ■ building occupants ■ the HVAC system ■ pollutant pathways ■ pollutant sources (sample contaminants if needed) Develop one or more hypotheses to explain the problem. Test by manipulating building conditions or exposure, or by performing appropriate tests. Is the problem solved ? Make necessary changes so that the problem will not recur. Finish Yes No No No Yes ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ Note: Outside assistance may be needed at any point in the investigation, depending upon the complexity of the problem, the skills available in- house, time pressures, or other factors. FIGURE 6-1: Conducting an IAQ Investigation Do you have an explanation for the complaint ? Do results support your hypothesis ? Attempt a control strategy ▼ Follow-up validation

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