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2nd Edition, November 2007

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Description / Abstract:

The purpose of this manual is to guide building managers and contractors on controlling construction contaminants so they do not impact building occupants.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is more likely to impact the health of building occupants when construction and renovation projects occur in an occupied building. Dust and odors or other contaminants of concern migrating out of the work area and into occupied spaces can disrupt normal operation of the facility and, under worst case scenarios, cause injury or illness. While IAQ concerns in most buildings are often comfort issues, environmental changes in occupied buildings undergoing construction can have much more serious consequences. The mere presence of detectable dust or odor from a construction project, even at harmless levels, may trigger occupant concerns based on perceived hazards.

Effective management of IAQ during construction requires designers, contractors, facility managers, building engineers, and the occupants to plan and work together. Conflicts regarding scheduling, budget, and continuing facility operation are best resolved early in the design development phase. Waiting for a mid−project air quality crisis," either real or perceived, can be costly to all parties. For example, implementing site controls and rescheduling contractors after the project is underway can be highly disruptive.

The expertise of architects, construction managers, heating, ventilation, and airconditioning (HVAC) engineers, and contractors are essential to the solution of most IAQ problems related to construction. Design of interior construction projects should include a detailed assessment of HVAC systems and relative pressurization, including their relationship to the proposed work. Where steps must be taken to protect building occupants from construction emissions, modifying HVAC operation and protecting the HVAC equipment and air conveyance system are often integral parts of the process.

A good construction manager should be trained to recognize activities or conditions which could be detrimental to building occupants. This awareness has become even more critical with the emergence of IAQ−related litigation. While standards for non−occupational air quality are not defined by either OSHA or EPA, specifications in construction contracts or facility leases may address IAQ. In practice, however, IAQ controls are usually based on common sense and good professional judgment. Ongoing documentation of these decisions made to control IAQ and site conditions may be necessary to demonstrate good faith in regard to potential liability. Even where the best IAQ controls are in place, clear communication between all parties and flexibility to adapt to changing conditions are required for successful resolution of problems.

Construction activities potentially impact occupants both in new buildings where work is ongoing after some areas are occupied and in older facilities which are being repaired, modernized, or reconfigured. This manual will focus on those activities that temporarily produce airborne dust, odor, and other contaminants during demolition, construction, and punch list activities. Longer term IAQ concerns, such as proper design and modification of HVAC systems, are beyond the scope of this manual. The reader is referred to other references published by SMACNA, ASHRAE, and EPA for information on other IAQ issues.