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 July 2007
Tech News

New Practice Will Consistently Evaluate Indoor Air Quality Problems

A new ASTM International standard will provide a needed method to consistently address indoor air quality complaints in residential buildings and to guide IAQ investigations in an efficient manner. The standard, D 7297, Practice for Evaluating Residential Indoor Air Quality Concerns, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee D22.05 on Indoor Air, part of ASTM Committee D22 on Air Quality.

The first modern indoor air quality studies were conducted in the U.S. during the mid-1960s and focused on pollutants governed by national ambient air quality standards. The early studies showed that many air pollutants occurred at higher concentrations inside buildings than outdoor conditions would suggest, which indicated the importance of indoor air pollution sources, according to Niren Nagda, a D22 member and the principal investigator for a research project that forms the basis for D 7297. Nagda is also the chair of Subcommittee D22.05.

“Unlike ambient air quality, IAQ is not covered by regulations and problems can be difficult to identify and resolve,” says Nagda. “Residential IAQ problems are especially difficult to resolve, as the contaminants may not be considered to be as immediately threatening as those found in industrial settings.” Nonetheless, Nagda says that contaminants such as carbon monoxide, lead, asbestos and mold, as well as the intrusion of moisture itself, have been problematic in residential settings and are increasingly the subjects of IAQ lawsuits.

According to Nagda, IAQ-based complaints and problems, including health symptoms and odors, exist in buildings but the frequency of IAQ complaints and problems is not known. “Characterization of IAQ concerns and identification of their underlying causes require systematic observations and measurements of the indoor environment, its occupants and contaminant sources,” says Nagda. “This practice provides background and procedures for the investigation of IAQ issues.”

Nagda notes that the stepwise and phased approach of D 7297 will allow for IAQ investigations that are commensurate with the nature of the problem and the level of resources available for a specific case. The standard will be used by indoor air quality specialists and researchers, occupational hygienists, state agencies entrusted with IAQ concerns, local health departments and building managers.

Subcommittee D22.05 would be interested in hearing from anyone who uses D 7297. “This practice represents the best current understanding of indoor air quality problems and their causes,” says Nagda. “Thus, users of D 7297 are encouraged to send a summary of their experiences and other relevant feedback to D22.05 to aid in future revisions.”

CONTACT

Technical Information: Niren Nagda, Clarksburg, Md.
Phone: 301/540-7708

ASTM Staff: George Luciw
Phone: 610/832-9710

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