We use a hypothesis-based six-step protocol (see "A Rational Procedure for Investigating Indoor Air Quality Problems") to quickly and accurately diagnose indoor air quality problems and prescribe effective mitigation recommendations. This procedure includes:
- Problem Description – Interviewing the building occupants who express IAQ concerns can provide valuable information to guide the next steps of an IAQ investigation. Communication is crucial in maintaining a healthy work environment.
- Potential Source Inspection – An important step which is often overlooked by investigators is an inventory of past and present potential sources in and around the building.
- Ventilation Measurements – Operation of the ventilation system(s) is a key factor in determining the concentrations of indoor air contaminants. It is also important to verify that the code requirements for the minimum amount of outside air supplied by the ventilation system(s) are met.
- Contaminant Measurements – If it is desirable to collect contaminant measurements they should be selected based on the issues and potential sources identified for the investigation.
- Data Interpretation – The collected data is pulled together and the investigator reviews the results in context with applicable ventilation and contaminant guidelines.
- Recommendations for Corrective Action – The final step where the investigator formulates corrective actions to fix the problem.
Many IAQ issues do not require complex or expensive integrated air contaminant measurements and can be identified by the investigator during the building walk-through as well as talking with facility staff and occupants, and collecting select real-time measurements of contaminant and ventilation parameters.