DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Issue Date: 6/30/94
AUTHORITY: California Labor Code §§6300 et seq., and Title 8 California Code of Regulations §§332.2, 332.3, 336, 3203, 3362, 5141 through 5143, 5155, and 14301.
POLICY: It is policy of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to investigate all complaints or referrals alleging that workplace indoor air quality (IAQ) is injurious to the health of building occupant-employees, or a report of a fatality, serious injury or illness, or serious exposure involving workplace IAQ.
I. COMPLAINT AND REFERRAL PROCESSING PROCEDURES
All IAQ complaints received by the District shall be carefully evaluated by the District Manager to determine whether the complaint is valid.
NOTE: IAQ complaints can be taken by District Office Support Staff, but only after they have been trained by the District Manager in the Complaint Processing Procedures found in P&P C-7 and C-48.
A valid IAQ complaint is a complaint which alleges that indoor air in an industrial or in a non-industrial work environment is hazardous to the health of a building occupant-employee(s).
For instance, if a complainant alleges that the indoor air temperature is uncomfortable but the District Manager judges that the indoor air temperature is not in a range known to produce thermal stress, then the complaint should not be categorized as a valid Cal/OSHA complaint.
NOTE: Complaints about the temperature of a place of employment can be referred to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. See 8 CCR §11040 (Wages, Hours and Working Conditions), Item 15, Temperature, found in Appendix B to the California Labor Code.However, care shall be taken by the District Manager to properly evaluate the validity of all IAQ complaints since even comfort complaints may indicate a serious IAQ problem.
In addition, the District may provide these sources of assistance with any appropriate IAQ resource materials available from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service.
After initial evaluation by the District, the following types of IAQ complaints shall be referred to another state or local government agency, or private sector entity, for investigation:
NOTE: Each District Office shall maintain a current list of telephone numbers of local agencies with the responsibility for enforcing state or local anti-smoking laws or ordinances.
Complaints alleging ETS exposure in places of employment not covered by a state or local anti-smoking law or ordinance shall be investigated by utilizing a letter to the employer with notification to the complainant. See Attachments A and B.
Complaints alleging pesticide exposure in an indoor workplace environment shall be referred to the local County Agricultural Commissioner for investigation.
Complaints alleging exposure to any type of ionizing radiation, including radon exposure in the home environment, shall be referred to the Radiologic Branch of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS).
NOTE: In Northern California, notify CDHS at (510) 540-2014, and in Southern California, notify CDHS at (213) 620-2860.
For complaints alleging low frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation exposure, a referral shall be made to the appropriate electric energy supplier's customer service department.
NOTE: 8 CCR §5085 regulates exposure to radiofrequency and microwave radiation.
Complaints alleging a violation of a local AQMD regulation, e.g., odors from an adjacent automobile paint shop, shall be referred to the appropriate AQMD office.
Complaints alleging an uncontrolled release of natural gas, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) shall be immediately referred to the appropriate local fire department.
The District shall make a referral to the Medical Unit requesting assistance prior to initiating an investigation of any serious IAQ complaint. See Section I.B.3.b. for definition of serious IAQ complaint.
The District may make a referral to the Medical Unit requesting assistance prior to an investigation of any nonserious IAQ health complaint. See Section I.B.3.a. for definition of nonserious IAQ complaint.
NOTE: When investigating a nonserious IAQ health complaint involving a large number of symptomatic occupant-employees, i.e., greater than 20% of the building occupant-employees, or health complaints which are recurring and/or worsening in severity, the District should consider requesting Medical Unit assistance.
NOTE: When completing a Cal/OSHA Form 90M to request Medical Unit or Epidemiology Unit Services, compliance personnel shall indicate the number of employees who are ill, the number of potentially affected employees, suspected exposures, characteristics symptoms, cases diagnosed by health care professionals and the specific type of medical services requested.
The following types of IAQ complaints shall generally be considered nonserious:
A complaint alleging malfunction of a building's heating, ventilation and air- conditioning (HVAC) system shall generally be considered nonserious.
A complaint alleging that IAQ is hazardous because of large quantities of non-specific airborne particulates, dust or debris shall generally be considered nonserious.
A complaint alleging that the indoor air temperature is in a range which is uncomfortable, but which will not result in thermal stress, shall generally be considered nonserious.
Complaints alleging IAQ health hazards are often characterized by a number of nonspecific symptoms, including fatigue, headache, dizziness, odor annoyance, skin problems, and eye, nose, throat and chest irritation. The occurrence of these symptoms among many workers in a particular office building has been labelled "Sick Building Syndrome."
A complaint alleging that indoor air is producing nonspecific health effects, such as those mentioned above, or those health effects attributed by the complainant to ETS exposure, shall be considered nonserious when the symptoms:
The following types of IAQ complaints shall generally be considered serious:
NOTE: The District may request Medical Unit assistance in making a determination whether a IAQ complaint is serious. If it is determined that the IAQ complaint is serious, the District shall request prior Medical Unit assistance prior to initiating the investigation of the complaint.
NOTE: A complaint alleging tuberculosis exposure shall be addressed according to the procedures found in P&P C-47.
A complaint alleging that a building occupant-employee is suspected, or has been diagnosed by a physician, as having IAQ-related cancer, difficulty in conceiving or an adverse birth outcome shall be considered serious. A complaint of cancer or adverse birth outcome cases shall be coordinated by the Medical Unit with the Epidemiology Unit, the local health department and with the California Department of Health Services.
A complaint alleging that the indoor air is producing nonspecific health effects, including Sick Building Syndrome, or those health effects attributed by the complainant to ETS exposure, shall be considered serious when the symptoms:
After the opening conference, compliance personnel shall determine whether it is necessary to evaluate the HVAC system. If HVAC system evaluation is determined to be necessary, effective evaluation may require coordination with appropriate personnel representing HVAC system management.
For buildings owned and/or managed by the State of California, HVAC system evaluation may be coordinated with appropriate personnel from the State of California Department of General Services (DGS).
For other buildings, HVAC system evaluation may be coordinated with appropriate personnel representing building HVAC system management.
II. IAQ INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES
Interviews with large numbers of building occupant-employees is not an efficient use of compliance resources. Rather, compliance personnel shall conduct interviews with a representative number of occupant-employees who have been exposed to the IAQ hazard under investigation and who are either symptomatic or non-symptomatic.
The scope of occupant-employee interviews shall be limited to screening for the following and shall not include other types of symptom surveys:
Any on-site personnel who are responsible for maintaining the quality of the indoor air environment, including maintenance of the HVAC system, shall be interviewed. Use the HVAC System Maintenance Personnel Interview Form in Attachment D.
Person(s) who are responsible for inspection, operation, and maintenance of the building's HVAC system, shall be identified and interviewed to determine if the building's HVAC system is being inspected, operated and maintained properly. Use the HVAC System Maintenance Personnel Interview Form in Attachment D.
Examination of HVAC system's inspection, operation and maintenance records shall be conducted in conjunction with an interview of HVAC system maintenance personnel. During the evaluation, if the maintenance records are not kept on-site, a copy of the records shall be requested by compliance personnel.
NOTE: Prior to initiating a physical inspection of a building's HVAC system, compliance personnel shall take appropriate protective precautions to minimize exposure to themselves and to building occupants. If any questions arise about what personal protective precautions are appropriate, compliance personnel shall consult with the District Manager and, if necessary, the Regional Senior Industrial Hygienist.
NOTE: Minimum ventilation rates found in the California Energy Code (24 CCR Part 6 Section 121) range from 0.15 cfm/ft2 to 1.50 cfm/ft2. These rates apply to new construction only, but can be used as a general guideline for existing facilities See Attachment E for California Energy Code Minimum Ventilation Rates.
Indoor air measurements can be classified generally into two categories: measurement of ventilation efficiency and measurement of the concentration of specific indoor air contaminants.
Ventilation efficiency is commonly assessed by measuring air flow rates at various places in the indoor air environment. See Section II.B.3.b.
Most complaints about the quality of indoor air arise from employees who work in non- industrial environments. Hazardous exposures in these work environments are often difficult to evaluate. Approaches using traditional industrial hygiene sampling techniques often demonstrate compliance with 8 CCR §5155 permissible exposure limits (PELs) despite the persistence of IAQ complaints from the building occupants.
Measurement of the concentration of specific indoor air contaminants can be classified into substance sampling for gases, vapors, and airborne particulates, and sampling for biological aerosols, or bioaerosols.
Measurement methods for gases, vapors, and particulates have been developed and validated for use in assessing compliance with permissible exposure limits (PELs). However, the concentrations of air contaminants found in non-industrial indoor air environments are typically significantly less than the PEL for the substance, sometimes by several orders of magnitude. Therefore, establishing exposures in excess of the PEL is not a reasonable goal of indoor air quality sampling. When considering measurement methods, the sensitivity of the method is often more important than other concerns due to the very low concentrations encountered in indoor air environments.
Sampling for and analysis of bioaerosols, is a comparatively recent development in industrial hygiene. While the sampling techniques for bioaerosols are similar to those used for air contaminants, the analytical methods and conclusions which may be derived from these measurements are significantly different.
For one thing, ability of a biologic agent to multiply complicates consideration of the effect of concentration on health outcomes. Also, there are no biologic concentration standards or PELs against which to compare a particular bioaerosol sampling result. As a result, measurements of bioaerosols "inside" the building are usually compared to those "outside" the building or to a control building. All of these factors make supporting an association between exposure and effect more difficult than with air contaminants.
NOTE: See Attachment F for a recommended Decision Logic for making an air contaminant sampling decision. If further guidance is needed, consult the Regional Senior Industrial Hygienist.
Bioaerosols are usually introduced into the indoor air environment from the outdoor air. They lodge in areas of a building where moisture is present, such as in drip pans of the ventilation system, in wet walls, or in wet carpets. The bioaerosols then multiply in these areas and spread by air currents to other areas of the building.
The decision to sample the air for a particular biologic air contaminant, such as yeast, fungi, bacteria or viruses, can only be made after an initial investigation of the indoor air conditions present in the subject workplace and then shall only be undertaken under limited circumstances.
Bioaerosol air sampling shall be performed only when there is evidence that a source for bioaerosol exposure exists in the particular workplace or building occupant-employees have a medical condition which strongly suggests a building source. Without information indicating a source of biologic exposure, bioaerosol sampling is wasteful.
The Cal/OSHA IH Technical Manual can serve as a reference for air contaminant procedures and analytical methods. Some modification to the methods found in the Manual may be necessary due to the low concentrations expected in most indoor air environments. These modifications will normally consist of increasing the sampling period to increase the likelihood of sampling intermittent excursions. Increasing the air flow sampling rate to achieve a larger total air volume per sample can also be done to obtain a sufficient sample, but increasing the air flow rate can affect the air contaminant concentrations.
See Attachment G for recommended IAQ Sampling and Analytical Methods for several common indoor air contaminants.
NOTE: If further guidance is needed, consult with the Regional Senior Industrial Hygienist or appropriate personnel at the Analytical Laboratory under to contract to the Division.
Site specific sampling for bioaerosols shall be developed with the assistance and concurrence of the Regional Senior Industrial Hygienist.
In contrast to air sampling, bulk sampling for biologic material can be very useful and should be performed when indicated. Appropriate respiratory precautions shall be taken by compliance personnel when performing bulk sampling for biologic building contaminants.
Medical interviews with building occupant- employees shall be conducted by Medical Unit personnel during the course of an investigation of a serious IAQ complaint, or when asked by the District to assist in the investigation of a nonserious IAQ complaint.
NOTE: Medical Unit personnel shall work closely with compliance personnel when participating in IAQ investigations.
The scope of occupant-employee interviews performed by the Medical Unit shall be determined by Medical Unit personnel, and shall include, but not be limited to, the following items:
Symptom survey questionnaires may be utilized by Medical Unit personnel under limited circumstances to assess the health status of building occupant- employees who are at the same risk of exposure to the IAQ hazard as the complainant.
When necessary, Medical Unit personnel shall assist compliance personnel to obtain the release of medical information to the Division.
All findings generated during the course of an IAQ investigation involving Medical Unit personnel shall be summarized by the Medical Unit personnel and reviewed with district compliance personnel in a timely fashion.
III. CITATION PROCEDURES
A particular IAQ hazard may in some cases violate provisions of more than one section of Title 8. If so, the citation shall allege each violation separately, and a penalty shall be proposed separately for each violation. Consideration should be given to reducing penalties as provided by 8 CCR §336(k) where they arise from multiple violations based on the same specific hazard or violative condition.
§3362 provides a basis for issuance of citations pertaining to general sanitation requirements. The following subsections are applicable to IAQ investigations:
Cleaning and maintenance of work environments, including building exteriors and environs, such that "harmful exposures" will be avoided.
Performance of cleaning and sweeping in such a manner as to minimize contamination of the air;
This subsection is not applicable to IAQ.
Proper storage of putrescible waste and refuse;
Removal of all sweepings, putrescible wastes, refuse, and garbage in such a manner as to avoid creating a menace to health due to unsanitary conditions;
Effective pest control.
NOTE: §5140 defines harmful exposure as an exposure to dusts, fumes, mists, vapors or gases: (a) in excess of any permissible limit prescribed by §5155; or (b) of such a nature by inhalation as to result in, or have the probability to result in injury, illness, disease, impairment, or loss of function.
§5142 provides a limited basis for issuance of citations pertaining to HVAC system operation, inspection, and maintenance.
This subsection requires building HVAC systems to provide at least the quantity of outdoor air required by provisions of Title 24, California Administrative Code, which were in effect at the time the building permit was issued. This requirement is generally unenforceable because, in most cases, this information is unavailable to the employer. Thus, a special order will usually be the appropriate mechanism to require increases in the fresh air delivered by HVAC systems to eliminate an IAQ hazard.
This subsection requires continuous operation of HVAC systems subject to enumerated exceptions.
This subsection provides for inspection and maintenance of HVAC systems, correction of problems found, documentation, and retention of records.
§5143 provides additional requirements applicable to mechanical ventilation systems. This section applies to both dilution and local exhaust ventilation.
Subsection (a) provides general requirements applicable to the function of ventilation systems. Of particular relevance to IAQ problems is subsection (a)(1), which requires that harmful substances be exhausted out of the workplace in such a way as to avoid contaminating areas within the workplace.
Subsection (b) requires continuous operation of exhaust systems during all operations for which they are designed.
Subsection (c) is closely related to subsection (a)(1), and requires that exhaust systems discharge to outside air in such a manner as to avoid contamination of accessible work area. Recirculation of exhaust air is specifically permitted, provided that it does not result in harmful exposures. This provision can be used to cite for hazardous recirculation of exhausted air, which may arise from internal system design factors or external design factors, e.g., positioning exhaust air ducts too close to intake air ducts.
Subsection (d) includes several requirements. The first is the requirement to ensure that intake air is not contaminated by any outside source, whether created by the employer or not.
Subsection (d)(1) requires that delivery of outside air not diminish the effectiveness of local exhaust ventilation systems.
The remaining subsections deal with specific requirements related to ensuring the provision of adequate uncontaminated intake air, such as sealed duct joints where necessary; monitoring, cleaning, and replacement of filters; and measures to prevent combustion heating systems from contaminating indoor air.
§3203 requires an employer to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Injury and Illness Prevention (IIP) Program. The employer's IIP Program is not effective with respect to IAQ hazards if any of the following circumstances exist:
In most cases, these will be the only IAQ-related situations citeable as violations of §3203.
§5141 requires employers to prevent harmful exposures by means of appropriate engineering controls, administrative controls, and/or personal protection. This section has two basic applications. The first is to situations in which a PEL has been met without proper observance of the hierarchy of control measures listed in subsections (a), (b) and (c). The second, which is more relevant to IAQ problems, is to situations involving harmful exposure which is not chemical in nature.
For IAQ investigations, 5141 can be cited when no PEL exists for the hazard in question, but the employer has failed to prevent a non-chemical harmful exposure, e.g., exposure to airborne bacteria from improper HVAC system maintenance.
IAQ problems in non-industrial settings rarely involve exposures in excess of a PEL. Where they do, the contaminant is usually carbon monoxide or a solvent. If a PEL has been exceeded, cite §§5155(c) and (e) as appropriate.
§5155(f) provides that a medical surveillance program approved by the Division may be required to ensure satisfactory maintenance of employee health and to ascertain the effectiveness of control methods used by employers. Thus, 5155(f) can be used to address IAQ problems where medical surveillance is appropriate. This is done by issuing an Order to Take Special Action pursuant to 8 CCR §332.3.
§14301 provides a basis for issuance of citations for failure to record work-related injuries and illnesses.
Issuance of a Special Order pursuant to §332.2 should be used to address recognized IAQ hazards requiring enforcement action which do not constitute violations of Title 8. All Special Orders shall be developed with the involvement of the Medical Unit and approved by the Chief or designee prior to issuance.
Issuance of an Order to Take Special Action pursuant to 8 CCR §§332.3 and 5155(f) should be used in cases where medical surveillance is necessary to address recognized IAQ hazards requiring enforcement action. All Orders to Take Special Action shall be developed with the involvement of the Medical Unit and approved by the Chief or designee prior to issuance.
IAQ violations shall be classified according to the provisions in 8 CCR §334. Generally, exposure to a substance above the applicable PEL and to a bioaerosol capable of causing death or serious physical harm will be classified as serious. See Labor Code §6432.
A -- Sample Notification to Employer About ETS Exposure
B -- Sample Notification to Complainant About ETS Exposure
C -- Occupant-Employee Interview Form (Cal/OSHA 48)
D -- HVAC Maintenance Personnel Interview Questionnaire
E -- CA Energy Code Minimum Ventilation Rate Guidelines
F -- Decision Logic for Air Contaminant Sampling [EXAMPLE NOT AVAILABLE]
G -- IAQ Sampling and Analytical Methods