From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Air quality in academic chemistry buildings
Date: April 24, 2012 10:57:09 AM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <2044.325a70e5.3cc81945**At_Symbol_Here**>

>Do you know if there are generally accepted air quality standards for chemistry buildings, and if there are where would I find them?

Some very esteemed people have answered this question by citing the OSHA air quality standards which are mostly from 1971 and totally inappropriate even for work places now.  And using the ACGIH TLVs is still not enough. 

Remember that both of these standards' stated purpose is to protect most (not all) healthy adult workers--people paid to take the risk.  That might be OK for teachers, but it sure is not acceptable practice for students who are not workers and many are not "healthy."

The Americans for Disability Act is not limited to providing wheel chair access.  It extends to all conditions in the building including air quality. 

ASHRAE 62-2001 and prior standards recommended using 1/10th of the TLVs for the general public.  But the later standards only say more study is needed to set these standards.  But in the absence of studies which are not likely to be done in any of our lifetimes, it is incumbent on schools to provide an environment suitable at least for the "general public."  I have used EPA outdoor standards on occasion on the theory that if a certain level of air contaminant over an 8 hour period can make people unhealthy outdoors, it can be expected to do the same indoors.

To show the difference in these standards, carbon monoxide is a good example.  The OSHA PEL-TWA is 50 ppm.  The ACGIH TLV-TWA is 35 ppm. and the 8 hour EPA NAAQS says that over 9 ppm is "unhealthy."  And the data shows this is especially true for the fetus or adults with heart disease..  So perhaps we should consider this standard if we allow pregnant women or people with heart conditions to take classes.

Unfortunately, EPA only sets NAAQSs for a handful of the chemicals we use, so for most chemicals, I still use the 1/10th TLV until something better comes along.

So there is really no good answer to this question except to say that the OSHA and ACGIH standards will have to be exceeded by some significant amount..


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