Calling In Your Air Quality Concerns
by Katie Bolger, Associate Health & Safety Specialist

During any given year, Environmental Health & Safety receives calls from across all of Columbia’s campuses regarding indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns. These calls chemical odors, suspected gas leaks, excessive dust, poor air circulation or similar matters. While many of these are quickly resolved, some may take significant time and involve other University departments, such as Facilities. When contacting EH&S (or Facilities) with an IAQ concern, the information detailed below is most useful in helping to identify and resolve the issue.

Location: In addition to building, floor, and room number(s), it is helpful to also advise if the issue is isolated to a specific area within a room, whether it is affecting the corridors or neighboring rooms, and any other relevant information about the physical location of the concern. This additional information will help EH&S identify possible sources and solutions. Often times activities on the above or below floors or on a nearby loading dock can cause odors in adjacent spaces, so knowing the exact location will help guide responders in the right direction.

Type of Odor or IAQ Issue: This information is important because it can help the responder decide how best to investigate the cause of the issue. For example, a response to a chemical odor would be different than to a suspected gas leak. Please try to be as specific as possible in describing the issue when placing an IAQ call.

Time of Occurrence: Each air quality issue is different. Some may seem constant while others may behave transiently. It is important to note in the call when the odor was noticed and how long it lasted or if it is still persisting. If this is a repeated occurrence, it is important to create a log. This log should show what time the odor occurred, type of odor, and where it was strongest. Logs such as these can help track the ongoing issues and help responders discover their source.

Contact Information: When calling EH&S or Facilities with an IAQ concern, please provide your full name, UNI, and a telephone number where you can be reached. Responders may use this information to pursue follow-up questions or recommendations to help solve the issue.

Finally, it is important to call EH&S as soon as an IAQ concern manifests. A timely report yields the greatest chance of having the issue identified and resolved quickly.

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