Indoor Environmental Quality Additional Testing Available
The following is a listing of additional field tests and samples that Healthy Buildings often perform during indoor environmental quality inspections and are available to our clients on an as needed basis. Note: these are just some of the more common tests and samples conducted in commercial buildings; Healthy Buildings can meet client sampling needs for any situation based on the unique field characteristics at hand.
Airborne particulates are measured using a portable Ultrafine Particle Counter. This highly sensitive device is capable of measuring nanoparticles or particles less than one micrometer (um) in diameter using a precision laser and nucleated isopropyl alcohol. This diagnostic tool is particularly suited to indoor environmental investigations involving boiler leaks, vehicle exhaust odors, photocopy/toner emissions, cooking odors, and complaint investigations where standard airborne dust and particle monitoring are insufficient.
Airborne Mold Constituents
For airborne mold spores, fungal fragments, and potentially allergenic particle sampling, Healthy Buildings uses a non-viable spore trap, such as the AirOCell (AOC) cassette and pump. The AOC device allows for the rapid collection of a wide range of airborne aerosols including mold spores, pollen, insect debris, fibers, and inorganic particulate. This sampling method, as opposed to the culture collection method, brings several significant advantages: 1) it is more cost effective; 2) it allows for a rapid turnaround on results; 3) the method is subject to less contamination than culture methods; and 4) samples can be collected unobtrusively (ideal for office environments). Samples are subsequently analyzed using optical microscopy methods.
Microbial surface samples are taken total using sterile multi-organism detection swabs and/or surface imprints. The swab samples are incubated and subsequently analyzed for bacterial and fungal types present with species identification using optical microscopy techniques. The surface imprint samples are taken for quick identification of toxic mold spores.
Lead and Copper in Drinking Water
Lead and copper in drinking water analysis is achieved by collecting water samples using special acid-washed bottles with subsequent analysis using atomic absorption spectrometry for lead content. The results will be reported in micrograms per liter (ug/L) and compared with current EPA standards for drinking water in commercial buildings.
Watercheck (Comprehensive Drinking Water Screening)
Watercheck (drinking water) samples are collected in a series of five sterilized and acid washed containers. Within 24 hours, the samples are sent to our laboratory for analysis. Ten physical characteristics are examined using electrogravimetric and nephelometric techniques. Fifteen inorganic metals are screened using ion chromatography. Forty-eight organic compounds are tested for using gas chromatography and coliform bacteria, including e. coli, are assessed using a membrane filtration technique. All results are compared to the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) as regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies.
Legionella bacteria sampling & analysis will is accomplished by drawing 100-1,000 milliliter water samples from cooling towers or other suspect building water sources. Samples are transferred using two-stage inoculation onto a selective buffered charcoal yeast extract. The extract is then incubated for a minimum of ten days, after which it will be analyzed for legionella bacteria and counted using a laboratory stereoscope. Samples are reported in colony forming units per milliliter of water (CFU/ml) and compared to OSHA guidelines.
Air Handling Unit(s) Inspection
Air handing units are inspected for factors relating to ventilation, filtration, and hygiene. Specific issues include, but are not limited to: control system, damper settings, integrity of internal insulation, proper drainage of water, integrity and cleanliness of AHU internals, filter fit and condition, and rating of filtration systems with respect to indoor environmental quality parameters.
Volatile Organic Compounds – Full Spectrum Identification
Full spectrum volatile organic compound (VOC) samples are collected. These samples shall be taken by passing known volumes of air through mulit-bed Sorbent Tubes. The samples will be analyzed by capillary gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy. The compounds collected include alcohols, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. The results will be analyzed with respect to relevant maximum recommended standards and guidelines for commercial indoor environments.
For formaldehyde measurements Healthy Buildings uses electronic detectors capable of sensor resolutions at 0.01 ppm with detection limits of 0.01 ppm (10 ppb). The unit uses a standards generator to compare permeation rates of formaldehyde gas on a bed of activated carbon. Results fall within the tolerances of NIOSH method 3500. The sensor is calibrated daily and factory calibrated annually.
Datalogging – Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Temperature, Relative Humidity
Continuous monitoring over a multiple day period for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, temperature, and relative humidity using an electronic Datalogger in conjunction with non-dispersive infrared and electrochemical sensors.
Miscellaneous Gases (nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide)
Miscellaneous gases are monitored directly using electrochemical sensors. These sensors are zeroed with hydrocarbon free air and spanned to appropriate low level concentrations using NIST certified primary standard gases purchased from Air Liquide (Cambridge, MD). Sensor resolutions are listed at 0.04, 0.01 and 0.10 ppm respectively. In-house calibrations are performed monthly. Factory calibrations are performed annually.
Electromagnetic Force (EMF) Screening
The screening process for EMF covers Extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) radiation. Measurements will be made using appropriate Walker Scientific EMF Power Survey Meters in three probe directions to arrive at a Root Mean Square (RMS) average. The measurements will be taken within the building as close as possible to the most likely source locations (e.g., power cable feeders, transformers, main switching rooms, etc.), as well as in the regularly occupied spaces nearest to those sources. This will give a fair indication of the levels of exposure at the most “suspect” sites within the building.