BOISE, ID — The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) supports lung-health advocacy and protection to include preventative tools, measurement and improvement of indoor air quality using devices such as:
- Particle counters
- VOC meters
- Allergen samplers
- Carbon dioxide meters.
HFI also applauds industry efforts such as those exemplified by vacuum-cleaner maker, ProTeam, in its recent drive to support the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE to fight against lung cancer in women. Please note that ProTeam’s social campaign supporting LUNG FORCE will be held from May 13, 2014 to August 12, 2014. Join the cause at www.facebook.com/ProTeamVacuums and @ProTeamVacuums on Twitter.
The Tools of IAQ
Three preventative cleaning tools for better IAQ are:
- Entrance mats to remove fine dust containing pesticides, heavy metals, and other outdoor contaminants that can become airborne indoors.
- Dusters that trap and remove dust – microfiber comes to mind, but a damp cotton cloth works, as does a well-filtered vacuum with a brush attachment.
- Vacuum cleaners that retain rather than spread dust (the Carpet and Rug Institute’s or CRI’s Seal of Approval program is helpful in selection).
Lung Health-Related Measurement
As the term implies, these devices count tiny inhalable airborne particles, and can help tell if your facility is “producing” dust. For example, take a particle counter and measure outdoor then indoor ambient air. Is the indoor air much dirtier than outside? If so, look for sources:
- Check your vacuum’s exhaust during operation for raised particle counts compared to ambient air.
- Check desks for facial tissue boxes. Pull out a tissue with the particle counter “on” and see how the reading spikes.
- Check incoming air from your HVAC system for particle presence. Talk with your HVAC team for correcting building filter deficiencies.
As indicated, these measure levels of airborne Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Newer devices can identify several hundred airborne pollutants and their presence by type and volume. Chemically-driven cleaning processes tend to be VOC-intense, so knowing airborne VOC levels can highlight areas for improvement.
Finding elevated levels of allergenic dust in carpet and areas like upholstery can help cleaners target their efforts for better removal, and can empower facilities to make other improvements.
In one test,a sampling nozzle fits over a vacuum hose to enable taking a “suction” sample from carpet to be sent to a lab for evaluation. The lab determines the presence of allergens by type and amount, and provides a report. In one major school district, elevated levels of mouse droppings were found in dust leading to stepped-up Integrated Pest Management (IPM) efforts.
Carbon Dioxide Meters
These measure carbon dioxide exhaled by people, and can help determine poor ventilation. The presence of carbon dioxide also acts as a surrogate for the buildup of other airborne pollutants due to inadequate ventilation.
For more information on IEHA’s Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) program visit: www.integratedcleaningandmeasurement.com