Chemicals, Odors & Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

  • Loading...
  • Published on:  Wednesday, May 15, 2019
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides information about a myriad of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) topics. The following is shared by the agency on the subject of chemicals and odors in the built environment.

    Chemicals and related odors can be sources of IEQ problems in buildings. Odors are organic or inorganic compounds and can be both pleasant and unpleasant. Some odors can be health hazards and some are not. While most chemical contaminants originate from within the building, chemicals can be drawn into a building from the outdoors as well.

    Reducing exposure to chemicals indoors and in the workplace is a preventative action that can lead to improved outcomes for both worker and building occupant health, and for the environment.

    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common chemical contaminants found in office and home environments and are a source of odors. VOCs are organic (containing carbon) chemicals that can easily evaporate into the air. Many products found in the indoor environment may have the potential to release VOCs. Examples include:
    • Caulks, sealants and coatings
    • Adhesives
    • Paints, varnishes and stains
    • Wall coverings
    • Cleaning agents
    • Fuels and combustion products
    • Carpeting and vinyl flooring
    • Fabric materials and furnishings
    • Air fresheners and other scented products
    • Personal products like perfume, shampoos, etc.

    If these and other chemical contaminant sources are not controlled, indoor environmental quality problems can arise, even if the building’s ventilation system is properly designed and well maintained.

    There are of course many other sources of chemicals and odors that can be found in buildings. These include everything from office equipment emissions (printers) to polluted outdoor air entering a structure (vehicle exhaust) to vapor intrusion from contaminated soil or groundwater, and even microbial VOCs from indoor mold growth.

    These are just a few things to know about chemicals and odors impacting the indoor environment. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, health or safety issues, please visit the websites shown below.

    Clark Seif Clark
    EMSL Analytical, Inc.
    LA Testing
    Zimmetry Environmental
    Healthy Indoors Magazine
  • Source: