How often to test indoor air quality depends on several factors. These include things like the type of building, the sources of pollution, the health and comfort concerns of people in the buildings, and the regulations or guidelines of local or national laws.
Here are some general guidelines:
- New buildings or buildings that have undergone major renovations: Test before occupancy and again after a few months.
- Buildings with a history of indoor air quality problems or complaints: Test at least once a year or when there are changes in the building or occupant activities.
- Buildings with specific indoor air quality concerns (e.g., located near major sources of outdoor pollution, moisture issues): Test often.
- Buildings with people at high risk in places like hospitals, schools, daycares, and senior living and care facilities: Test the most often.
When deciding on a testing schedule, consider the specific factors and risks associated with the building and its occupants. Some things to think about are:
- Occupancy: The number and activities of people in commercial buildings can vary widely. Buildings with more people (e.g., office buildings) may need testing more often testing than those with less people.
- Ventilation: Good air flow is key to maintain good indoor air quality. The type of ventilation system, its age and condition, and the amount of outdoor air intake affect indoor air quality.
- Building materials and furnishings: Materials such as carpets, furniture, and wall coverings can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can harm human health.
- Chemical use: What kinds of chemicals are being used?
- Building age and condition: Older buildings may have a higher risk of indoor air quality problems due to outdated or poorly maintained building systems and materials.
- Local environment: Buildings near sources of outdoor air pollution (e.g. highways or industrial facilities) may have higher levels of indoor air pollution.
- Cost: Cost and resources needed to test
For commercial buildings, a complete indoor air quality testing plan may include:
- Regular testing for VOCs, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants,
- Regular testing of ventilation systems, building materials, and chemical use
- Regular maintenance and cleaning of building systems
- Education and resources to people in the building to help promote good indoor air quality practices.
Each building is a little different. Consult a qualified indoor air quality professional to develop a testing plan that is tailored to the specific needs and concerns of the building and its occupants.