Frequently Asked Questions
Bad air quality comes in many different forms – some are clear as day and others are completely unnoticeable to the naked eye/nose.
Some of the telltale signs you’ve got poor indoor air quality include:
- Musty or unusual smells that persist.
- Stale/stuffy air
- Clear lack of air movement
- Excessive humidity
- Dirty HVAC equipment
VOCs – or Volatile Organic Compounds – are chemicals that contain carbon and are present in indoor air. VOCs come from all types of sources, including building materials, furnishings, consumer products, dry cleaning chemicals, petroleum products, cleaning agents and more.
VOCs can be completely odorless, and some are known to cause a number of health problems.
Getting to the root cause of poor air quality almost always requires a professional inspection. This calls for a detailed understanding of the building’s design, ventilation system, HVAC setup, as well as the common activities performed by the occupants of the building.
There are many culprits behind poor indoor air quality. The most common ones include:
- Poor ventilation/lack of fresh air
- Contaminated air being consistently brought into the building
- Dampness due to plumbing leaks, damage, flooding, or humidity
- Particle board products
- Asbestos (older buildings)
There are many different types of indoor air pollutants. Some of the less serious ones include dust, pollen, fabric fibers, and other common household particles. These may aggravate allergy or asthma symptoms, but are not overly dangerous.
Other airborne hazards indoors are not as easily dismissed. These include radon, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, volatile organics, lead particles, asbestos, nitrogen dioxide, and more. Moreover, many of these pollutants are unnoticeable and require professional detection services to catch.
Formaldehyde is an organic pollutant containing an atom of carbon, and atom of oxygen, and two atoms of hydrogen. While it is present outdoors, indoor concentrations are much higher. Formaldehyde is commonly found in manufactured wood products using certain resins to glue particles together, hair salons, and even your old high school biology lab.
Formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, throat, and nose. Some consider it to be a cancer risk in certain people. While there is a lot of debate over what levels of formaldehyde are considered dangerous, it’s never a bad idea to get your building or residence inspected.
It’s tough to say exactly how often you should get your indoor air quality tested. As you are operating a sensitive site, such as a child care center, you can never be too safe. That said, you may consider testing your indoor air quality at least once a year.
For child care centers proposed in buildings constructed in 1978 or earlier, or co-located with nail salons, dry cleaners, or any other potential environmental concern, an Indoor Environmental Health Assessment (IEHA) is required. An IEHA encompasses radon testing, lead paint survey, asbestos inspection, and identification of any other potential indoor environmental concern. The IEHA must be conducted by a NJDOH licensed company.
A Preliminary Assessment (PA) and Report need to be completed in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:26E to satisfy NJDEP requirements. In summary, a PA includes performing the environmental due diligence on the property, including deed search, municipal and county file searches, review of historic documentation such as aerial photographs, insurance maps, and telephone directories, research of industrial directories, and review of government databases. The PA also includes a current site inspection. This information is then submitted to the NJDEP in a Preliminary Assessment Report. The final remediation document, a Response Action Outcome letter, is issued by the Licensed Site Remediation Professional retained by the child care center.
The Preliminary Assessment and Remedial Action Outcome letter is usually completed in 30 days upon receipt of all available documentation.
The cost is largely dependent on the site size, historical use, and the number of areas evaluated. The average costs range from approximately $3,000 to $5,000 for most sites. The NJDEP will reimburse the child care center up to $1,500 for the PA. Sakson completes all the grant application forms as a courtesy to our customers.
The IEHA and accompanying forms are completed within 30 days upon receipt of all available documentation. The NJDOH will review the forms and issue a Safe Building Interior Certificate generally within 30 to 60 days.
The cost is largely dependent on site-specific conditions. The average cost ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 for most sites. Sakson can provide a free cost estimate for your specific project. This does not include the NJDOH fee, which is $1,500 for an initial application.
Every 5 years radon samples need to be collected. Samples need to be collected from each frequently occupied room, which includes classrooms and offices, on the lowest level of the center.
Every 3 years drinking water samples are required to be collected from all drinking water faucets and at least 50% of the child care center’s total number of faucets.
Child care centers built in 1978 or earlier – or are co-owned with nail salons, dry cleaners, or any other potential environmental concern are required to have an Indoor Environmental Health Assessment. This involves a number of air tests to be done, including radon, lead paint surveying, asbestos, and an analysis of any other potential concern. These inspections must be done by a NJDOH licensed provider.
In terms of symptoms, some of the big ones include (but are not limited to):
- Shortness of breath
- Eye, skin, nose, or throat irritation
- Sinus congestion
This depends on a number of different factors – the size of the building, the depth of the problem, etc. Indoor air quality testing can take several days to several weeks to get the results back.
It depends. Some gasses, such as carbon monoxide are easily detected with a battery operated detector. For more complex contaminants, such as formaldehyde, volatile organics, and mercury, it’s recommended to have a professional take care of this for you to ensure no variants get missed.
Humidity has a huge impact on your indoor air quality. Buildings with high humidity are breeding grounds for pollutants and bacteria. This can lead to issues like breathing problems, allergies, coughing, and so on. However, some contaminants, such as formaldehyde and volatile organics, are present in even low humid environments.
Although you may be connected to city water, or a private water company, lead and copper contaminants may enter your water supply through your interior piping. This is a common occurrence in very old houses or buildings, and newer structures that have recently installed copper lines, or may have used lead solder. Lead and copper are both contaminants that can cause a variety of adverse health effects.
Samples are collected from a drinking water faucet and sent to a New Jersey certified laboratory. The typical turnaround time is two weeks, although an expedited turnaround of 2 business days is available.
Each metal costs $30 to analyze, plus labor and travel costs for our sampling technicians.
Feel free to contact one of our certified technicians. An excellent government resource is at the EPA website: Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water | Ground Water and Drinking Water | US EPA