Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around building and structure, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants, including mold. EHS has professionals who can help address indoor air quality questions and concerns.
Mold spores are present everywhere both outdoors and indoors and spread easily through the air. Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that is found in the environment. It grows on plants, food, and even walls. While some mold (such as the ones responsible for producing cheese and penicillin) are beneficial, others may be a serious health threat.
Mold needs a food source, measurable moisture and mild to warm temperatures. The food source can be any organic materials such as dust, books, papers, animal dander, soap scum, wood, particle board, paint, wallpaper, carpet, and upholstery. When such materials become and stay damp, especially in dark areas with poor air circulation, mold may grow.
Flooding, pipe leaks, leaky roofs, moisture in walls, high indoor humidity and poor heating/air-conditioning system design and operation can create a damp environment that mold needs to grow. If you can smell a musty odor or see mold, you may have a mold problem. If you suspect you have a mold problem, you should contact EHS for more information.
Download the mold fact sheet (PDF) for more information.
Roof work is a necessary part of building preservation on campus. Frequently odors are generated during these projects when hot asphalt or coal tar is used as water-proofing material. Read more about commons concerns and questions (PDF) that campus building occupants might have regarding roofing project odors.
Many chemicals have good detection properties and you can detect the odor (smell) long before the concentrations become hazardous to human health. Download and read more about odorous chemicals (PDF) that might be used on campus during renovation/demolition projects on campus. When renovation and repair projects use products that are potentially noxious, protective measures for building occupants and third parties are critical. Communication with all potentially affected groups is important to create a safe working environment.
The University of Texas has established a set of procedures third party consulting companies must follow when conducting Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) investigations at its facilities. These procedures assume an investigation of areas for pre-renovation planning purposes and not as a response to IAQ complaints. Download and read IAQ Diagnostic Requirements for Contractors Conducting Work at UT Austin (PDF).