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Survey: Building professionals know indoor air quality is important but not how to improve it

The Canadian Committee on Indoor Air Quality and Buildings recently commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a survey among building professionals and get a deeper understanding of just how much or how little they know about indoor air quality. Doing so could give us all a sense of whether Canadian building professionals are on our side and ready to battle indoor air quality problems or in the dark and in need of major education.

Overall, the findings suggest that Canadian building professionals are in the know about the importance of indoor air quality, but they also suggest that many professionals don’t know how to properly remedy it and have rose-colored glasses on when assessing their own dwellings.

Most professionals at least understand that bacteria, second-hand smoke, and toxic mold are threats to indoor air quality and have a solid understanding of the breathing problems they create. Many of them also acknowledge that they get complaints from tenants relating to air quality and that they provide guidance to rectify the problems.

But there are some crucial knowledge gaps in other areas. The ERG survey suggests that most building professionals underestimate the threat caused by volatile organic compounds, which could include cleaning products in carpets, lead paint, and so on.

Worse yet, the majority of building professionals incorrectly identify the best way to repair indoor air quality. Only three in 10 know that “pollutant source control” is most effective, whereas almost half think “increasing ventilation” is the key and roughly a quarter believe “air cleaning” is best.

Almost every building professional reports that his or her space’s overall air quality over a typical year is good. However, only a third rate their air quality as “very good,” the highest possible rating.

So, these findings tell us that:

1) Most building professionals acknowledge that indoor air quality is important;

2) Most building professionals offer guidance to their tenants to help improve their indoor air quality;

3) Most building professionals don’t know the best way to improve indoor air quality;

4) Most building professionals believe their indoor air quality is satisfactory but has room to improve.

In other words, they know that bad indoor air quality is undesirable but don’t know how to fix it, don’t think their own building has it, and give incorrect advice on how to correct it when asked by their tenants. That’s an obvious generalization, as not every building professional is guilty of those traits, but it still illustrates a clear problem.

Thankfully, one key stat suggests there’s hope: the majority say that, when they need more information, they will in fact turn to environmental consultants and other indoor air quality experts. The key is to inform them enough that they realize they’re uneducated. That way they’ll turn to the certified professionals and take their indoor air quality to new heights.

Environmental Services Group is a cutting edge environmental consulting firm based in Toronto and servicing both the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario. We provide state-of-the-art, industry-leading expertise in remedying environmental hazards such as mold, lead, asbestos and much more. Call 416-575-6111 or visit our website today for a pressure-free initial consultation. You’ll be glad you did!

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