Problems Related To Cooling And Heating In Building Examples Pdf

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The sick building syndrome

This guide is intended to help people who work in office buildings learn about the factors that contribute to indoor air quality and comfort problems and the roles of building managers and occupants in maintaining a good indoor environment.

Because good indoor air quality depends on the actions of everyone in the building, a partnership between building management and occupants is the best way to maintain a healthy and productive work space. Relationships and procedures between management and occupants will vary from building to building. Some buildings are occupied entirely by the employees of the building owner, and in most of these buildings, the responsibility for indoor air quality management may be handled by a central department or office.

In other buildings, where one or more building occupants rent space under separate leases, building management may have limited control over the day-to-day activities in the leased space. Likewise, the occupants of such buildings may have little control over central building services such as heating and cooling, elevator services, housekeeping, and waste and pest management.

For these reasons, occupants and management in leased space buildings will need to closely coordinate their indoor environmental management strategies. Indoor air quality is a major concern to businesses, building managers, tenants and employees because it can impact the health, comfort, well being and productivity of building occupants. Studies conducted by the U.

Environmental Protection Agency EPA and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside. Pollutants in our indoor environment can increase the risk of illness.

Several studies by EPA, states, and independent scientific panels have consistently ranked indoor air pollution as an important environmental health problem. While most buildings do not have severe indoor air quality problems, even well-run buildings can sometimes experience episodes of poor indoor air quality. A EPA Report to Congress concluded that improved indoor air quality can result in higher productivity and fewer lost work days.

EPA estimates that poor indoor air may cost the nation tens of billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and medical care.

Indoor air quality is not a simple, easily defined concept like a desk or a leaky faucet. It is a constantly changing interaction of complex factors that affect the types, levels and importance of pollutants in indoor environments. These factors include: sources of pollutants or odors; design, maintenance and operation of building ventilation systems; moisture and humidity; and occupant perceptions and susceptibilities.

In addition, there are many other factors that affect comfort or perception of indoor air quality. Controlling indoor air quality involves integrating three main strategies. First, manage the sources of pollutants either by removing them from the building or isolating them from people through physical barriers, air pressure relationships, or by controlling the timing of their use.

Second, dilute pollutants and remove them from the building through ventilation. Third, use filtration to clean the air of pollutants. Pollutants can be generated by outdoor or indoor sources, including building maintenance activities, pest control, housekeeping, renovation or remodeling, new furnishings or finishes, and building occupant activities.

Read more about pollutants and sources. One important goal of an indoor air quality program is to minimize people's exposure to pollutants from these sources.

Some of the key pollutant categories include:. Many different factors influence how indoor air pollutants impact occupants. Some pollutants, like radon, are of concern because exposure to high levels of the pollutant over long periods of time increases risk of serious, life threatening illnesses, such as lung cancer. Other contaminants, such as carbon monoxide at very high levels, can cause death within minutes. Some pollutants can cause both short and long term health problems.

Prolonged exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause lung cancer, and short term exposures can result in irritation and significant respiratory problems for some people, particularly young children.

People can react very differently when exposed to the same contaminants at similar concentrations. For example, some people can develop severe allergic reactions to biological contaminants to which other people will not react.

Similarly, exposure to very low levels of chemicals may be irritating to some people but not others. For people with asthma and other pre-existing conditions, exposure to irritants like environmental tobacco smoke or gases or particles from various indoor sources may cause more severe reactions than the same exposure would in others.

It is important to control moisture and relative humidity in occupied spaces. The presence of moisture and dirt can cause molds and other biological contaminants to thrive. Relative humidity levels that are too high can contribute to the growth and spread of unhealthy biological pollutants, as can failure to dry water-damaged materials promptly usually within 24 hours or to properly maintain equipment with water reservoirs or drain pans e.

Humidity levels that are too low, however, may contribute to irritated mucous membranes, dry eyes and sinus discomfort. Maintaining good indoor air quality requires attention to the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning HVAC system; the design and layout of the space; and pollutant source management.

HVAC systems include all of the equipment used to ventilate, heat and cool the building; to move the air around the building ductwork ; and to filter and clean the air. These systems can have a significant impact on how pollutants are distributed and removed. Because of the HVAC system's importance, good indoor air quality management includes attention to:.

Some of these factors affect both the levels of pollutants and perceptions of air quality. Ask your supervisor or office manager who to talk with if you have a concern about any of these factors. Some of the factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality may originate from inadequate HVAC design.

Some may be solely in the control of the building management, such as maintenance of the HVAC system and the amount of outside air being mechanically brought into the building. Others are largely in the control of building tenants and occupants, such as materials used in renovations and products and furnishings brought into or used in the building by occupants.

Some, like cleanliness and general housekeeping of the building, require the cooperation of both the building management as well as all of the individuals who work in the building.

For these reasons, indoor air quality is a shared responsibility. Good indoor air quality management practices can make a big difference. However, some factors, like reactions to indoor air contaminants among highly susceptible individuals, or the quality of the outside air, may not be within anyone's immediate control. It is also important to remember that any building, no matter how well operated, may experience periods of unacceptable indoor air quality due to equipment breakdown, inadequate maintenance, or in some cases, the actions of building occupants.

It is also important to keep in mind that many perceived indoor air quality problems are often comfort problems, such as temperature, humidity, or air movement in the space being too low or too high. In addition, many symptoms, such as headaches, can have causes that are not related to factors in the building.

Even though the factors that affect the quality of the indoor environment are numerous, the good news is that most indoor environmental problems can be prevented or corrected easily and inexpensively through the application of common sense and vigilance on the part of everyone in the building.

Success depends on cooperative actions taken by building management and occupants to improve and maintain indoor air quality. By becoming knowledgeable about indoor air quality, tenants and occupants are in a good position to help building managers maintain a comfortable and healthy building environment.

Work with management any time you:. All of the occupants of a building can have a great influence on indoor air quality. Everyday activities like heating food in a microwave and using the photocopier can generate odors and pollutants. By being aware of indoor air issues, occupants can help prevent problems. Here are some things you can do:. Do not block air vents or grilles. Keep supply vents or return air grilles unblocked, so you won't unbalance the HVAC system or affect the ventilation of a neighboring office.

Furniture, boxes or other materials near supply vents or return air grilles may also affect air flow. Follow your office's procedures to notify building management if your space is too hot, too cold, stuffy or drafty. Comply with the office and building smoking policy. Smoke in designated areas only. Clean up all water spills promptly, water and maintain office plants properly and report water leaks right away.

Water creates a hospitable environment for the growth of micro-organisms such as molds or fungi. Some of these microbes, if they become airborne, can cause health problems. Dispose of garbage promptly and properly. Dispose of garbage in appropriate containers that are emptied daily to prevent odors and biological contamination.

Store food properly. Food attracts pests. Some foods, if left unrefrigerated, can spoil and generate unpleasant odors. Never store perishable food products in your desk or on shelves. Refrigerators should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent odors.

Keep kitchens and dining areas clean and sanitize as necessary to prevent pests and maintain hygiene. Notify your building or facility manager immediately if you suspect an IAQ problem. This helps management determine the cause of the problem quickly so that a timely solution can be reached. For some businesses, responsibility for dealing with air quality issues may involve more than one person.

The office manager should follow the business's internal procedures in dealing with the building management. Some of the things this person can do to improve indoor air quality include:. Maintain a good working relationship with building management on indoor environmental issues. Cooperative efforts are the best way to solve many indoor air quality problems. Follow your internal guidelines to ensure that building facility management is informed of, and involved in, all indoor air quality issues.

Be as knowledgeable as possible when dealing with building management on indoor air issues. Place office furniture, partitions, and equipment with air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions of the HVAC system in mind.

Make sure air supply vents and return grilles are not blocked by furniture or equipment. Computers and other heat-producing equipment placed near or under an HVAC sensor device system can trigger cooling, even if the actual temperature for occupants is cool. Place such equipment away from HVAC sensors to avoid this kind of situation.

Coordinate with building management in instances when responsibility for design, operation and maintenance of the HVAC system is shared. Sometimes the portion of the HVAC system servicing a leased space is the responsibility of the tenant.

In such cases, work closely with building management to ensure that all parts of the building are receiving optimal service from the system. Ensure that filters in window air conditioners and perimeter heating and cooling units are changed frequently. Establish an effective smoking policy.

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The sick building syndrome comprises of various nonspecific symptoms that occur in the occupants of a building. This feeling of ill health increases sickness absenteeism and causes a decrease in productivity of the workers. As this syndrome is increasingly becoming a major occupational hazard, the cause, management and prevention of this condition have been discussed in this article. The sick building syndrome SBS is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building. No specific illness or cause can be identified.


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An urban heat island UHI is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter.

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An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality

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Outdoor workers who are exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat-related illness. The risk of heat-related illness becomes greater as the weather gets hotter and more humid. This situation is particularly serious when hot weather arrives suddenly early in the season, before workers have had a chance to adapt to warm weather. For people working outdoors in hot weather, both air temperature and humidity affect how hot they feel. The "heat index" is a single value that takes both temperature and humidity into account. The higher the heat index, the hotter the weather feels, since sweat does not readily evaporate and cool the skin.

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This guide is intended to help people who work in office buildings learn about the factors that contribute to indoor air quality and comfort problems and the roles of building managers and occupants in maintaining a good indoor environment. Because good indoor air quality depends on the actions of everyone in the building, a partnership between building management and occupants is the best way to maintain a healthy and productive work space. Relationships and procedures between management and occupants will vary from building to building.

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