How To Hire an IAQ Professional

In most cases, facility managers are capable of handling indoor air quality (IAQ) problems, particularly if they are adequately trained.

washingBut because poor IAQ can have such a profound effect on occupant health and comfort, it’s important to call in outside professional help in certain cases to make sure the problem is properly investigated and mitigated.

In general, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends calling in a professional indoor air quality consultant in the following cases:

  • When your efforts are not rectifying the problem. If occupants still complain about the same symptoms or discomforts, the problem is not solved.
  • The problem is serious, and delaying a response could have dire consequences. If your facility has a suspected bacterial contamination, such as Legionella, or if occupant complaints are widespread, you must resolve the situation rapidly.
  • If building management thinks there should be an independent investigation over an in-house investigation.
  • If your IAQ case requires specialized equipment or expertise. IAQ professionals have specialized equipment, such as air sampling kits, that facility managers may not have access to, or may not be trained to use correctly.

When hiring an IAQ professional, it’s important to hire a company with qualified staff who understand and follow industry standards and guidelines.

The EPA recommends taking the following into consideration:

  • What is the company’s experience? The staff members who conduct the investigation should have appropriate training and demonstrate a good understanding of IAQ and its relationship to building structure, mechanical ventilation systems and occupant activities.
  • Does the company conduct a quality interview and present a thorough proposal? Skilled professionals should ask questions specific to your situation. The causes and remedies for IAQ problems vary substantially in each circumstance. Competent investigators will gather sufficient information so they have a preliminary understanding of the facts relevant to your building.
  • Is the company knowledgeable about state and local regulations and codes? For example, if the company recommends a change to the ventilation system, it’s important that those changes conform to local building codes.
  • Does the company have a good reputation? Ask for references, particularly from past clients who have received similar services. Ask former clients if the company offers follow-up services to ensure problems do not recur. Check with any local consumer protection programs to verify the business does not have any complaints filed against it.
  • How does the cost compare to other bidders? Choose quality over cost, but keep cost a factor.

Look in the Yellow Pages under topics such as “Engineers” or “Environmental Services” to find IAQ professionals. Ask for referrals from other building managers.

The following professional associations may have lists of companies they recommend:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE)
  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
  • National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)
  • National Air Filtration Association (NAFA)

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