Building Air Quality - Novmeber 2019

Something in the Air STRANGE CASES OF IAQ MYSTERIES While most indoor air quality issues are pretty straightforward, the mix of environmental factors and human elements can create some surprising circumstances. It’s not all mold from water damage or problems with the HVAC system. Just look at these strange IAQ mysteries we’ve solved over the years. Troubling Trophies When the vice president of transportation at a large oil company began complaining of throat and sinus irritation after sitting in his office for just 30 minutes, we came in and ran all the usual tests. A laboratory analysis of the air samples we collected reported unusual bacteria in the office — the kind of bacteria usually found on the skin of dead animals. It’s not unheard of for invading pests to die in an office building, but an hour of searching above the ceilings, down the walls, and under furniture didn’t reveal any critters. What we did find was a taxidermy duck sitting on the credenza of the VP’s desk. The duck had been perched in the office for at least 10 years. The VP believed the custodians were cleaning the creature, but a quick inspection revealed a thick layer of dust on the duck’s feathers. We sent samples to the lab, which confirmed the bacteria was growing on the trophy. Apparently the presence of dust can encourage the growth of bacteria on the skin or fur of trophy mounts. This bacteria can impact IAQ and lead to health issues. Custodial services are rarely responsible for cleaning taxidermy, so unless the occupant can keep it clean themselves, we recommended, the stuffed animal must be removed from the building. How Does Antifreeze Get Into a Building? The power of suggestion can go a long way. Just by asking other people,“Do you smell something bad?”a tenant can encourage others to complain about IAQ. This is what happened on the 13th floor of an office building when the receptionist began to complain about a“chemical-like”odor that permeated

The Truth About the First Meal of the Day

Sometimes you skip breakfast simply because you don’t have time to eat. Other times, you skip breakfast because nothing really appeals to you. This is a common occurrence for many people across the country. But when you skip breakfast, you may find that you feel just fine. It begs the question: Is breakfast really that important? Do you need to eat breakfast? It depends. Most people can skip breakfast and be totally fine. They’ll make it to lunch without skipping a beat. It all comes down to how you feel . Some people need breakfast or they’ll have to deal with mood swings — often referred to as being “hangry”— caused by low blood sugar. A healthy breakfast can stabilize your mood, helping you feel more positive, energized, and focused throughout the morning. We can, however, bust the notion that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day.”This phrase was used to market breakfast cereal in the last century. In reality, it doesn’t mean anything. The most important meal of the day is whichever meal you get the most out of, whether it’s nutritional value, enjoyment, or both. Having a healthy, protein-rich breakfast does come with benefits, though. It gives you energy for the day and helps you avoid scrambling to find something to eat a couple hours later when hunger sets in. All too often, skipping breakfast (or having a carb-heavy breakfast) leads people to raid the vending machine or make unhealthy food choices they wouldn’t ordinarily make. Along these same lines, skipping breakfast may encourage you to eat more later in the day at lunch or dinner. You may think you’re saving calories, but over the course of a day, you can end up consuming more calories than if you had simply eaten breakfast. With so much research on the subject of breakfast, one thing is clear: You should eat when you feel hungry. You don’t have to live by the conventional wisdom of “three squares a day.”When you listen to your body, you’ll feel better for it!


2 Protecting the Built Environment

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