Thanks Stuart, That's the same problem we have here with the 9/11 dust. None of the individual substances were over the ACGIH limits except for total particulate, silica and asbestos in some samples at ground zero, but responders are clearly dying from respiratory damage. And residents in lower Manhattan exposed to much less, usually not even over the EPA outdoor standards, * are now showing adverse health effects in the Mt. Sinai study.
The dust was confirmed to have 108 toxic substances (Lioy) in identifiable amounts.
So perhaps the symptoms we see both in sick buildings and exposures during 9/11 and now the Gulf oil spill are a combination of individual sensitivities and our faulty assumption that all of the individual substance's effects are only additive. I know that as a healthy senior citizen, I had my first asthma attack at a time we told the air was fine despite that incredible odor. And a methacholine challenge has confirmed that diagnosis.
So listen to the people in the buildings. If a significant number are complaining and there is no other good reason for them to be dissatisfied with the environment, get more fresh air in there and see if complaints abate. And you are likely to see this happening more and more now that ASHRAE 62-2004, 2007, and 2010 require less fresh air than the 2001 and earlier standards. This is especially true in new facilities since LEED wants a later standard used.
* Note: EPA conveniently changed their asbestos standard to a level that would cause cancer in one person in 10,000, when the policy previously had been for a one in a million rate for the public so they could consider the levels "safe". And don't even get me started on all the other abuses of their own sampling data and choices of test methods. The major whistleblower on this issue at EPA was fired after 30 years of employment and her case is coming to trial in April. If she wins her job back, another case will be filed against EPA which will bring to light a massive amount of information on these issues. MR
In a message dated 1/31/2012 7:12:43 AM Eastern Standard Time, ssalot**At_Symbol_Here**XEON.NET writes:
I have been investigating IEQ issues for about 30 years. I can say with some surety that I never have found the "smoking gun" from air sampling a building with "sick building syndrome" issues. There are always some minor concentrations of potentially toxic or irritating substances in the air...VOCs, mold spores, particulates etc. But never enough to cause the symptoms reported.
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