The source is considered the area or product which is creating the IAQ contaminant.This can occur as an odor or fume brought into the building through the outside air supply.This can also occur within a building from deteriorating components or off-gassing of fixtures or furnishings, or it can be generated by a building occupant’s activity (such as gluing, soldering, etc.).

As previously discussed, IAQ contaminant sources can occur outside of the building or can be generated inside the building.Whenever these sources are uncontrolled, the potential for an IAQ problem is increased dramatically. Recent IAQ training programs developed by the EPA have identified a variety of areas in which sources can occur.

Sources Outside of the Building
Sources found outside of the building can include outdoor air which has been contaminated by a variety of things, both naturally occurring and resulting from human activity. The naturally occurring ones are usually anticipated in the forms of pollen, dust, and spores, which are generated by trees, grasses, and other living things.

Pollutants from human activity can include gases, dusts, and fumes from industrial activities. In addition, outside-air fans can bring in other outside sources, such as exhaust from vehicles parked at building loading docks, from idling traffic in parking lots, and from nearby congested freeways.

Mechanical Equipment Sources
Sources of IAQ contaminants related to the HVAC system can include dirt and dust which is found in ductwork or on other components, but is most often seen as microbiological growth found in drip pans, humidifiers, ductwork coils, and other moist portions of the system units. In addition, IAQ investigators commonly look for improper venting of combustion products such as carbon monoxide from water heaters, steam boilers, and gas appliances.

Building Occupant Activities
Activities which can create contaminant sources in buildings come from a variety of areas.
Building management firms must be apprised of the fact that housekeeping activities as well as
maintenance activities can create potential IAQ contaminant sources. In addition, occupant
activities have been shown to be a source for a variety of IAQ contaminants. These contaminants
include the obvious, such as tobacco smoking, and may also include cooking, cosmetic
odors, and even the use of certain office supplies, which may affect more allergic individuals.
Building housekeeping and maintenance crews must also be made aware of the fact that the
materials used for cleaning, pest-control activities, maintenance, and lubrication can also generate
odors, vapors, and fumes which can be considered potential IAQ contaminant sources.

Building Components and Furnishings
Building components and furnishings can create IAQ problems. Such products can act as collectors for dust or fallen airborne fibers and other particles. These furnishings include actual hard-surface fixtures such as cabinets, desks, and bookshelves.

In addition, carpeting has been found to be one of the largest collectors of dust and other indoor air contaminants.This problem increases as carpeting ages because the buildup of dirt and other contaminants can never fully be removed through cleaning processes.

Other types of unsanitary conditions can be created through water damage which may occur in the occupied space. Water leaks or spills which come in contact with items such as cellulose ceiling tiles, plasterboard walls, and even the aforementioned carpeting present a tremendous potential for the growth of micro- or macrobiological organisms of concern.

When products, fixtures, and furnishings are new, the potential for IAQ concerns also exists. Research has shown that the dyes and glues used in the manufacture and installation of items such as wallpaper, carpeting, and even drapery systems can of fgas harmful chemicals into a building’s environment.

Because of those concerns, many manufacturers have had airquality laboratories test their fixtures and furnishings for the level and type of off gassing that they can create. Prior to purchasing new fixtures or furnishings for a tenant space, the buyer should ask for the results of these laboratory tests to ensure that no unusual levels of off gassing can occur.

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