Monitoring air quality is an important aspect of providing a safe and functional work environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers guidelines for evaluating potential problems, and for proper testing procedures.
Need for Testing
While most outdoor contaminants are effectively filtered out of workplaces, indoor factors are of ever greater importance. Most of the related cases of illness result from inadequate ventilation systems or the failure to properly care for them. Some of the common pollutants that may be tested for are acetic acid, carbon monoxide, radon and asbestos.
One of the principle ways testing may commence is by interviewing the employees who work in a given facility or space. The interviewees will be cross-referenced to establish a commonality in symptoms. This data will better equip inspectors to narrow the list of possible culprits.
Investigators will typically check the ventilation systems thoroughly. If sampling occurs, the inspectors might use "detector tubes, particulate monitors, air velocity measuring instruments and psychrometers," according to the U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA Technical Manual. Samples should be taken in both problem and non-problem areas to compare the discrepancy between fresh air samples and contaminated ones.