New York Office Buildings and Indoor Air Quality Complaints

Millions of people work in office buildings in New York City and the surrounding tri-state area. Over the past decade, a growing number of workers and many of their employers have increasingly recognized the importance of a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor environment.

This awareness has created a growing demand for good indoor air quality (IAQ) in the office environment. Unfortunately, many office buildings have significant indoor air pollution sources that can impact building occupants. These sources may include off-gassing from furnishings, occupant activities, housekeeping practices, pesticide applications, and microbial contamination to name a few.

One significant factor that greatly influences the effect of these sources and the overall quality of indoor air in offices is the ventilation system and its design, operation, and maintenance. Employees typically have little, if any, control over the system. As a result, it is not uncommon for there to be a notable number of reported health problems from office workers associated with their work environment.

A number of well-identified illnesses, such as Legionnaires’ disease, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), and humidifier fever, have been directly traced to specific building problems. These are known as building-related illnesses. Most of these conditions can be treated; nevertheless, some pose serious health risks and may require prolonged recovery times after leaving the building.

“We are tasked with investigating IAQ issues in office buildings on a regular basis,” said Michael Berrevoets, President, VOETS, LLC. “Often, these cases can be fairly straightforward; however, sometimes building occupants experience symptoms that do not fit the pattern of any particular illness and are difficult to trace to a specific source. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout a building. To identify and resolve these types of cases, our building science experts put years of experience, state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, and advanced air testing services to work. Once the issue or issues are identified, a plan is then developed to resolve the problem and keep it from returning.”

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