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New Indoor Environmental Quality Topic Page Offers Focused, Organized Guide to NIOSH Resources

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
September 16, 2003

A new topic page on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) web site provides a focused, organized guide to resources that will help employers, employees, building managers, and others to address concerns about work-related indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

The topic page is found at

Almost 70 percent of the U.S. work force – approximately 89 million persons – work in non-industrial, non-agricultural, indoor work settings or indoor environments. In the last 20 years, diseases and health complaints related to these indoor environments have received increasing attention. “Indoor environmental quality” refers to the interactions among many factors in indoor environments, including the quality of the air, presence of chemical pollutants and microbiological pollutants such as mold, physical conditions such as temperature and humidity, ergonomic factors, and stressors from social/psychological or work organizational factors.

The new topic page links to several NIOSH resources on the web that can help users develop strategic, practical approaches to establishing or maintaining good indoor environmental quality in their workplaces. The resources include:

  • ”Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facilities Managers,” a manual that helps building owners and managers identify, correct, and prevent indoor air quality problems.
  • “The Building Air Quality Action Plan,” a related document for successfully making good IEQ management an institutional practice.
  • Texts of several recent NIOSH health hazard evaluation reports with findings and recommendations on addressing IEQ concerns at workplaces where the evaluations were conducted. The topic page also provides a link to NIOSH’s searchable health hazard evaluation database for access to additional reports.
  • Links to other NIOSH topic pages on related subjects such as asbestos, asthma and allergies, chemical safety, and work stress.

The most common health complaints attributed by building occupants to their indoor environments are generally of nonspecific symptoms, such as eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation, headache, and fatigue. Specific causal exposures or known diseases usually cannot be linked to these complaints. Available evidence relates these acute symptoms to multiple factors in the indoor environment.

NIOSH investigators have found IEQ problems caused by ventilation system deficiencies, overcrowding, offgassing from materials in the office and mechanical equipment, tobacco smoke, excessive moisture, microbiological contamination such as mold, and outside air pollutants.