"Indoor Environmental Quality," as the name implies, simply refers to the quality of the air in an office or other building environment. Workers are often concerned that they have symptoms or health conditions from exposures to contaminants in the buildings where they work. One reason for this concern is that their symptoms often get better when they are not in the building. In most instances where a worker and his or her physician suspect that the building environment is causing a specific health condition, the information available from medical tests and tests of the environment is not sufficient to establish which contaminants are responsible. Despite uncertainty about what to measure and how to interpret what is measured, research shows that building-related symptoms are associated with building characteristics, including dampness, cleanliness, and ventilation characteristics.
Indoor environments are highly complex and building occupants may be exposed to a variety of contaminants (in the form of gases and airborne particles) from office machines, cleaning products, allergens, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, cigarette smoke, microbial growth (fungal / mold and bacterial), insects, and outdoor pollutants. Other factors such as indoor temperatures, relative humidity, and ventilation levels can also affect how individuals respond to the indoor environment.
Understanding the sources of indoor environmental contaminants and controlling them can often help prevent or resolve building-related worker symptoms. Practical guidance for improving and maintaining the indoor environment is available. Workers who have persistent or worsening symptoms should seek medical evaluation to establish a diagnosis and obtain recommendations for treatment of their condition.