Indoor Air Quality Testing & Building Assessments

Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome (SBS) occurs when the occupants of a building experience acute health effects that seem to be linked to time spent in a building. There is usually no specific illness or cause identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building. Frequently, problems result when a building is maintained in a manner that is inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures, or when occupant activities create a problem.

The symptoms of SBS include: headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; a dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors and sometimes respiratory problems. With SBS, no clinically defined disease or specific chemical or biological contaminant can always be determined as the cause of the symptoms. Most of the complainants feel relief soon after leaving the building.

While specific causes of SBS are sometimes unknown, the following have been cited as contributing factors to sick building syndrome:

  • Inadequate temperature, humidity, lighting, or ventilation.
  • Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources, such as pollutants from motor vehicle exhausts, plumbing vents, and building exhausts (bathrooms and kitchens).
  • Chemical contaminants from indoor sources, such as, adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products, cleaning agents and pesticides.
  • Biological contaminants such as pollen, bacteria and molds. These contaminants can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drain pans, and ducts, or where water has collected in ceiling and wall systems, insulation, or carpet. Allergic reactions, dermatitis, headaches and even respiratory problems can be associated with these contaminants.

Contact GEM Environmental, Inc. if you have concerns regarding indoor air quality. We utilize; state of the art testing procedures, media and equipment; and are associated with AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) accredited laboratories.

LEED Compliance Testing

The U.S. Green Building Council developed an internationally recognized green building program- LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). The focus of this program was to not only construct buildings with an emphasis on; lower energy costs, reducing waste by using renewable/recyclable building materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions; but to also produce structures which are safer and healthier for occupants. There are different levels of LEED certification based on the amount of credits obtained (credit categories are: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality). Monitoring for Indoor environmental quality involves testing for: total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), carbon monoxide, 4-phenyl cyclohexane (new rug odor), formaldehyde and airborne respirable dust.

GEM Environmental, Inc. can perform this gamut of testing using acceptable and valid methods to help you achieve these valuable LEED credits.

Hazardous Building Materials Assessments

Testing for hazardous building materials is a necessary step in your building renovation or demolition planning. GEM Environmental, Inc. performs asbestos and hazardous materials surveys of buildings and properties. USEPA regulations under National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) require the owner to know the extent of asbestos in the building prior to commencement of the project.

In addition to asbestos, other materials are required to be tested/and or removed prior to renovation/demolition activities as well. Examples of such materials are:

  • Refrigeration units (Freon)
  • Capacitors and ballasts (PCB containing and non)
  • Transformers (PCB containing and non)
  • Oil-filled switches (PCB containing and non)
  • Florescent light bulbs
  • Thermometers, thermostats and other Mercury containing devices
  • Elevator reservoirs (oils, PCBs)
  • Stored chemicals and paints

GEM Environmental, Inc. will perform the assessment in accordance with EPA, OSHA, DEP and other applicable regulatory agencies and sampling/surveying guidelines. Inspectors are trained and licensed for the task at hand. The final report will details amounts and locations of the hazardous building materials, along with an associated budget cost for remediation.

Contact GEM Environmental, Inc. while planning your next renovation or demolition project to help you comply and realize all costs associated with your project.