Indoor air quality (IAQ, also called "indoor environmental quality") describes how inside air can affect a person's health, comfort, and ability to work. It can include temperature, humidity, lack of outside air (poor ventilation), mold from water damage, or exposure to other chemicals.
What hazards are associated with indoor air quality?
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a variety of symptoms. Some workers complain about symptoms that happen at work and go away when they leave work, like having headaches or feeling tired. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath can be symptoms of a more serious problem. Asthma and some causes of pneumonia (for example, Legionnaires’ Disease and Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis) have been linked to IAQ problems.
What can I do to protect myself?
If a specific air contaminant is known to be present, ask your employer if any air monitoring has been done and if so, ask for a copy of the test results. If you observe the sudden appearance of mold on walls or begin to experience symptoms such as irritation of the throat or other respiratory symptoms, bring this to the attention of your employer.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Training and Outreach Services
Related presentations on hazard communication and toxic and hazardous substances are available for employers to use to train their employees. These presentations should be customized to fit the conditions and hazards identified in the worksite.
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
Safety and Health Programs
This example program for hazard communication can also assist the employer with the development of a program.
Other resources can be found on the A-Z topics page for hazard communication.
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
Which standards apply?
There are no specific OSHA or N.C. occupational safety and health standards for Indoor Air Quality. However, specific OSH Division standards may apply to particular contaminants. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
29 CFR 1910.94 - ventilation
29 CFR 1910.141 - sanitation
29 CFR 1910.1000 - air contaminants
29 CFR 1910.1020 - access to employee exposure and medical records
29 CFR 1910.1200 - hazard communication
Other Applicable Standards
The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
- Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for standards related to indoor air quality in general industry.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 919-707-7876.