EHS Management, Health and Wellness

AIHA, Other Groups Form Indoor Environmental Quality Alliance

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and five other groups formed a new international association on indoor environmental quality (IEQ). The Indoor Environmental Quality Global Alliance (IEQ-GA) will serve as a platform for the exchange of indoor environmental knowledge and information and will promote education and research into the health and environmental quality in buildings.

Building indoor environmental and air quality

Aris Suwanmalee /

The Alliance includes associations representing professionals from Europe, India, and North America in a variety of disciplines involved in indoor environments. The other groups in the Alliance are the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Center (AIVC); American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE); Italian Association of Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration (AiCARR); and Federation of European Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (REVHA).

In addition to advocacy, education, research, and knowledge exchange activities, the Alliance intends to develop codes, guidelines, and standards for IEQ.

The Alliance was announced during the 40th Air Infiltration and Ventilation Center’s conference, titled “From Energy Crisis to Sustainable Indoor Climate,” held October 15–16 in Ghent, Belgium.

AIHA President Kathy Murphy stressed the role of IEQ within industrial hygiene.

“AIHA’s vision is a world where all workers are healthy and safe. By addressing indoor environmental quality, we are making important strides towards making this a reality,” Murphy said in a statement.

Georgi Popov represents the AIHA in the Alliance.

IEQ Factors, Hazards

Factors in IEQ include air quality, damp conditions, and lighting. Hazards include contaminants from carpets and furnishings, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, construction activity, microbial growth (bacterial, fungal, and mold), office machines, outdoor pollutants, and water-damaged building materials.

Indoor air quality issues also include temperature. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently revised its draft indoor heat illness prevention standard. Minnesota has temperature limits for both cold and hot conditions in indoor workplaces.

While there is no federal IEQ standard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does have standards for air contaminants, formaldehyde, and ventilation, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause. The ventilation standard covers controlling hazards posed by dusts, gases, and vapors generated by industrial activities. New Jersey has an indoor air quality standard covering public sector employment.

OSHA recommends that employers take a systematic approach to indoor air quality (also referred to as IAQ). Agency recommendations include identifying and assessing IAQ problems; addressing problems by the removal, substitution, or enclosure of sources of IAQ problems; and engineering and administrative controls and housekeeping to remove or reduce worker exposures.

Legionnaires’ Disease

One of the most serious IEQ hazards is Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia, caused by breathing in small water droplets containing the Legionella bacteria. Outbreaks have occurred in automobile and plastic injection molding manufacturing plants, hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Legionella growth can occur when water disinfection systems fail, external changes like nearby construction affect water quality in a building, or water temperatures are not cold or hot enough to prevent bacterial growth.

J. David Krause, PhD, recently developed an analytical method for evaluating the combined effectiveness of control measures used to prevent growth of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens.