Indoor Air Quality

The buildings and structures at Michigan State University vary in age both for initial construction and renovations. Ventilation systems also differ vastly among the building and structures. While these systems are maintained to a high level by Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, there may occasionally be issues with the indoor air environment. Below is a guide for building occupants to use to assess and address any possible indoor air quality issues.

Indoor Air Quality Issues

  • Chemicals

    Chemicals and related odors can be sources of IAQ concerns in buildings. Some chemical odors can be health hazards while others are not. Most chemical contaminants originate from within the building, but chemicals can be drawn into a building from the outdoors as well.

    Actions to take:

    • Stop using any scented candles or plug ins.
    • Note if the room has been deep cleaned lately, or if any new equipment has been put in use.
    • Ensure that only approved cleaning products are used by employees in your department, and that they are used properly.
    • If you feel you need to call emergency, dial 911. If not an emergency, but you cannot locate the source of the odor, call EHS at 517-355-0153 to request an IAQ investigation.
  • Odors

    An odor is something that you can smell. Odors or smells can come from natural things, such as plants, flowers, or animals. They also come from man-made chemicals or substances. You cannot always tell if something is harmful based on odor alone.

    Actions to take:

    • Check if the trash has been emptied recently.
    • Generally, inspect the work area for sources of odors, such as rotting food.
    • If you cannot locate the source of the odor call EHS at 517-355-0153 to request an IAQ investigation.
  • Dry Drains

    Each drain is equipped with a trap that keeps sewer gases or other volatiles from being able to come back inside the room or building. The trap is filled with water that prevents gases from coming back up the drain. However, if a sink isn’t used for a while, water can evaporate from these traps and cause a dry drain. Once the drain is dry, sewer gas or vapors from improperly disposed chemicals can come up through the drain and cause an odor in a room. This odor is often described as rotten eggs, sulphury, sewer gas or swampy.

    Actions to take:

    • Simply re-fill the trap with more water.
    • Prevent dry drains from occurring by running water in a drain at least every few months. This includes all drains even ones in fume hoods and on the floor.
    • Do not add oils or any other product to keep the water from evaporating.
    • If a drain seems to dry out quickly or you can not locate the drain, submit a work order to IPF.
  • Temperature and Humidity

    High humidity can make warm temperatures feel even warmer, leading to discomfort. Low humidity can occur in winter when cold air is warmed up to room temperature. Low humidity can cause itchy eyes and skin and general discomfort.

    Actions to take:

  • Mold

    Although some mold spores are always present indoors, mold will only grow if adequate moisture and appropriate moisture and appropriate food is available.

    Actions to take:

    • If you are experiencing an active water leak call IPF for service at 517-353-1760. Otherwise, check for signs of moisture and if present, submit a work order to IPF.
    • If you have a window air conditioner, submit a work order by IPF to have the unit maintained.
  • Construction

    The renovation of occupied buildings may impact indoor air quality.

    Actions to take:

    • If the construction is causing what are believed to be health hazards, call EHS at 517-355-0153.
  • Dust

    Proper housekeeping is important to reduce the amount of dust and improve the overall indoor air quality.

    Actions to take:

    • Make sure your office is properly cleaned regularly and dust your workstation if you notice a buildup of dust.
  • General Discomfort and Feeling Unwell

    Indoor air is filtered and recirculated, and mixed with varying amounts of fresh air depending on the outside air temperature. Depending on numbers of people in the work area the air may feel stagnant or stuffy. This may be due to the fresh air percentage being added to the building air.

    Actions to take:

    • For general discomfort while in the office, including increased allergy symptoms, discomfort and feeling unwell, call IPF at 517-353-1760 to request the air handling system be assessed.

IAQ Investigation

Before Contacting EHS

  • Check if the room was cleaned recently, or if the room hasn’t been cleaned in a while
  • Check if there is any trash, food, etc. that might be sitting out
  • Check for dry drains, and pour water down the drains
  • Check if there is any construction happening in or around the building
  • Check for water damage and the presence of mold, and have any window air conditioning units serviced.

If you have ruled out the common issues listed above, call 517-355-0153 to request an IAQ investigation.