This panel presentation and discussion is intended to provide an overview of the current environmental concerns facing safety professionals in the management of air, water, and waste issues and to provide a forum for sharing of issues, information, and solutions.

Air - or More Specifically - Indoor Air

When talking about air issues in the environment, many people will focus on emissions from industrial facilities. However, it appears that most safety professionals, as an extension of their focus on worker health and safety, focus instead on indoor air quality (IAQ) issues.

Current Regulations, Standards, and Guidelines

The world of IAQ regulations, standards, and guidelines is not at all as neatly defined as many other areas of practice. Indeed, the "cognizant authority" that is often viewed as defining the world of regulation in the area of US worker safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), does not have a regulation that specifically addresses IAQ. The draft OSHA IAQ regulation, published in the Federal Register in 1994, is still under review and there is no anticipated publication date on the current regulatory agenda. Given the need to provide a safe and healthy workplace to meet OSHA's General Duty clause requirements, safety professionals need to turn to other sources for IAQ guidelines and standards. However, the list of sources seems to be continually expanding, as even the most basic tenets - "What factors need to be considered in defining IAQ?" and "What is good IAQ?" - have a wide interpretation and application in the standards and guidelines in use today. Depending on how you define IAQ, you may focus on the highly regulated parameters such as asbestos, radon, and lead or you may expand your definition to include less-regulated but still fairly well-defined parameters such as temperature, relative humidity, and ventilation rates. On the other hand, you may need to address parameters such as light, noise, biologicals, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), for which IAQ-specific standards and guidelines do not exist. There may also be a need to reach beyond worker "safety" or comfort guidelines and standards, and look to standards for building construction and materials.

Given the lack of OSHA regulation in the area of IAQ, much of the focus in the US falls to the consensus standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). However, many see the US as lagging behind other countries and non-US standards may be good sources of information.

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