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Indoor Air Quality - Promoting Healthy Workplaces

Maintaining a satisfactory and healthy indoor environment and good indoor air quality in our highly-variable Kentucky climate requires a joint effort by all MSU employees. No heating or air conditioning system can eliminate all pollen, dust and allergens; therefore, certain maintenance and housekeeping practices must be utilized to reduce humid conditions and prevent microbial growth, such as mold and mildew within university buildings. Maintaining cleanliness in buildings is essential for healthy air quality because microbial growth, such as mold and mildew, grows and thrives in wet or humid conditions, including those created by food or other organic materials containing moisture, wet materials, water intrusion, or spills or leaks which are not cleaned up immediately. Mold or mildew growth can occur within 24-48 hours of a spill of any liquid or water intrusion, so clean-up of spills or reporting of water intrusion must be done promptly.

University departments must communicate and work with the Custodial Services staff, Facilities Management and the Office of Environmental Health & Safety as needed to address any HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), cleaning or indoor air quality issues in university spaces. Facilities Management will take reasonable steps to see that HVAC systems are operating properly and maintaining temperatures within the parameters of the building. They will check and perform filter changes in fan coil units at least every 6 months. Facilities Management also will investigate and monitor the mechanical rooms, basements and sub basements, as well as the underground tunnel system for any moisture concerns on a regular basis. Facilities Maintenance will respond to reports of water leaks and intrusion when notified by the faculty, staff or students. The Office of Environmental Health & Safety will work with University departments and Facilities Management as needed to conduct occupant and staff interviews and indoor air quality investigations to develop a plan to assist in locating and remediating the sources of IAQ concerns.


Building Occupants Responsibilities

Follow the 3 Cs: Cleaning, Climate and Communication 

1st “C” is CLEANING: Because microbial growth thrives in wet or humid conditions, cleanliness in the office spaces and common areas can assist in improving air quality and promoting a healthy and comfortable living environment free of mold, pests and insects. Items such as wet personal belongings or residue in leftover food containers and spilled drinks can be a source for microbial growth. For these reasons, the following responsibilities have been established for all building residents: 

1. Custodial Services is responsible for cleaning the common spaces in your building such as hallways, restrooms, classrooms, lounge areas, computer labs, and study areas. You can assist with the cleanliness of the areas by the doing the following: 
  • Make sure your trash is emptied regularly.
  •  Clean any spills immediately and thoroughly. 
  • Make sure that Custodial Services vacuums carpets or rugs, sweeps floors and dusts your work areas regularly. If you see an area in need of cleaning, please bring it to the attention of the building services staff. Building services will not move items on your desk or floor to clean and vacuum. You must work with them to have items moved if you want them to clean underneath your personal or work-related items.
2. Food preparation and consumption can attract pests and insects. Avoid leaving open food containers out, seal all containers after use and refrigerate perishable foods. Dispose of used food containers and food scraps regularly to prevent attracting pests and insects and promoting the growth of mold.

3. Keep refrigerator doors tightly closed. Failure to secure refrigerator doors may result in defrosting of the freezer and may cause leaking onto the floor.

4. Do not place wet items (shoes, umbrellas, etc.) on carpeted areas - leave them out in the hallway (or another place) to dry. 

5. Workplace food preparation and eating areas require daily cleaning by staff using those areas. Clean your soiled dishes or drinkware, wipe down countertops, tables, microwaves and other used surfaces daily. Empty coffee grounds and clean coffee pots after use. 

6. Cleaning of restrooms is the responsibility of Custodial Services unless you are otherwise notified. Report any mold or mildew immediately to Facilities Management.  

2nd “C” is CLIMATE: Controlling room climate is essential to the success of managing indoor air quality and comfort. Moisture and humidity provide conditions which are favorable for microbial growth. Facilities Maintenance strives to maintain optimal levels of humidity and temperature. University employees are expected to assist Facilities Management with this effort by following the guidelines below: 

1. If the windows are operable then it is important to KEEP WINDOWS CLOSED when the heating and air conditioning is running. The condensation created during cooling season by open windows (hot air) mixing with conditioned HVAC air (cool air) indoors cause significant mold and moisture problems within the HVAC system and office spaces. 

2. Close blinds early in the day to prevent the sun from heating the room. Turn off all lights when leaving the room.

3. Do not tamper with the HVAC unit. When it is humid, do not set your air conditioner down too low, especially in your office. Cold air causes humidity to condense out of the air and dampen surfaces. Contact Facilities Maintenance with temperature or humidity issues or water intrusion. 

4. Do not cover or block the HVAC air supply or return air vents or doors where the units are located. Reduced air flow to the HVAC system can result in excess moisture and promote mold growth within the system and office spaces. 

5. Do not block thermostats with furniture or equipment. 

6. Do not keep live plants in your office; the moist soil harbors many molds and allergens and can release large numbers of mold spores into the office spaces. 

3rd “C” is COMMUNICATION: 
1. Communication of any leaks or water intrusion to Facilities Maintenance is required immediately, as it only takes 24-48 hours for mold or mildew growth and water may cause significant damage to infrastructure. 

2. Facilities Maintenance should always be the initial contact for indoor air quality or water intrusion issues. 

3. If you do not see a visible water leak but notice a change in coloration of ceiling tiles or wet building materials, this should be reported immediately to Facilities Maintenance because the source of the water leak can be identified and repaired within the 24-48-hour window when detected early. 


INDOOR AIR QUALITY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Facilities Maintenance Work Control – 606-783-2066
Office of Environmental Health & Safety – 606-783-2179
University Police – Call 911 for emergencies. For after-hours serious water leaks, natural gas or sewer odors, University Police can be reached at 606-783-2035.