US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a major concern to businesses, managers, workers and room occupants because it can potentially impact the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants. Poor IAQ can be hazardous to workers’ health. As such, it is in the best interest of everyone that a proactive approach is taken to address IAQ concerns.
Common Indoor Air Contaminants and Their Sources: The most common indoor air contaminants include carbon monoxide (CO, which is a colorless, odorless gas), pesticides, damp indoor environments and biological contaminants (such as pollen, dander, mold and bacteria). The sources of these contaminants include inadequate ventilation of key areas (such as kitchens, toilet rooms and trash rooms), exposure to dust or other by-products due to painting or renovations taking place nearby and/or the presence of wet/damp surfaces (e.g. walls, ceilings, carpets, shades) that can provide a breeding ground for insects, mold and bacteria. There are a variety of issues or symptoms that develop when individuals are exposed to significantly high levels of indoor air contaminants. Excessive CO levels can cause headaches and nausea, exposure to high doses of pesticides can lead to seizures and high levels of biological contaminants may have adverse health effects (e.g. triggering allergies, asthma, immune system disturbances).
What can employers do to improve IAQ? There are several steps employers can take to improve indoor air quality. Employers can:
- Maintain a good working relationship with building management on indoor environmental issues.
- Avoid procedures and products that can cause IAQ problems.
- Work with the building manager to ensure use of only necessary and appropriate pest-control practices.
- Encourage building management to develop a preventive IAQ management program following guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
What can workers do to improve IAQ? Workers have an important role to play in improving and maintaining good IAQ.
- Do not block air vents or grills.
- Water and maintain office plants properly.
- Dispose of garbage promptly and properly.
- Avoid bringing products into the building that could release harmful or bothersome odors or contaminants.
- Notify the building or facility manager immediately if you suspect an IAQ problem.
Everybody has a role to play in maintaining or improving their IAQ. UVICELL Safety in Paradise is here to help small and medium-sized employers by providing free OSHA On-Site Consultation Services, program development and occupational training. We look forward to helping you meet your company’s safety and health needs! To learn more about this free and confidential safety and health program or to request our services online, visit http://safety.uvi.edu/.