Clifford Cooper, MS, CIH – The Vertex Companies, Inc. – IAQ Investigation Methods: Preview of IAQA 20th Annual Meeting

Air Date: 1-13-2017|Episode 443

Cliff Cooper is an industrial hygienist, health and safety manager, forensic investigator and IAQ consultant. Mr. Cooper designs auditable Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety Programs which meet program requirements under US OSHA, US EPA, US DOT, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001, JCAHO, ASHRAE, and GBCI LEED…

Full Description:

Cliff Cooper is an industrial hygienist, health and safety manager, forensic investigator and IAQ consultant. Mr. Cooper designs auditable Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety Programs which meet program requirements under US OSHA, US EPA, US DOT, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001, JCAHO, ASHRAE, and GBCI LEED. He is an experienced investigator for chemical safety, biological safety, quantitative exposure assessment, process health & safety, process ventilation and negative/positive pressure rooms design and testing. Mr. Cooper carries out work hazard assessments, health and safety plans (HASPs), Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs), Community Protection Plans, and Health and Safety RTK employee and community training programs. Mr. Cooper’s interests include design, commissioning and operation of building ventilation and forensic investigation of environmental factors associated with human well being in indoor environments. Mr. Cooper teaches building science and sustainable building professional development courses. He is a qualified Sustainability Consultant and has contributed on a number of LEED building projects including LEED NC, LEED CI, LEED Homes, and LEED EBOM. Mr. Cooper currently serves on the Board of Directors of the NY Upstate Chapter of the US Green Building Council.

Z-Man’s Blog:

The Vertex Companies, Inc.

IAQ Investigation Methods: Preview of IAQA 20th Annual Meeting

Cliff Cooper, industrial hygienist, health and safety manager, forensic investigator and IAQ consultant was our guest on today’s episode of IAQradio.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Cliff was initially interested in outdoor air pollution. He learned from the EPA’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM study) that indoor air pollution exposure could exceed outdoor exposures, felt it would be easier to study exposures in a “box” controlled environments indoors.

Sick buildings were the result of bad design and building practices such as installing poly-film inside of wall cavities and elimination of fresh air intakes. Sick building investigations couple with concerns over formaldehyde emissions provided sufficient opportunity for his fulltime employment in IAQ.

Industrial Hygiene was a natural progression at Washington State University where he opened the first EPA Lab for radon testing. He then began conducting forensic environmental investigations.

Vertex, his employer, is a primarily a civil and structural engineering firm with a growing practice in providing forensic support on construction projects.

Changing marketplace. Years ago he would receive calls from clients who had occupant complaints and requested him to investigate the cause. Today the calls he receives are from clients who want him to test for mold. Mold is a cause celebre.

There is a 10 year liability window on new construction. Litigation is a standard procedure after new construction.

Mold issues are common during the new construction of high-rise buildings.  Construction managers are often too busy to conduct daily walkthroughs on the project. As often no one is responsible for reporting moisture intrusion during construction problems exacerbate. Building owners and insurance companies have learned that having someone responsible for IAQ during construction is a good investment.

Green building projects. Building owners have overall responsibility for outcome of their green building projects. His observation is that the projects fall into two categories: 1) those where the owner is focused on collecting points for LEED certification and 2) those where the owner desires sustainability and the owner, architect integrate solid building design, performance and sustainability upfront which are met by the contractor.

IAQ investigating methods. Ten years ago the typical IAQ investigator was an industrial hygienist or someone with a science background and no building knowledge. Today’s investigators have training and experience in building science. The golden age of investigation is coming; where investigators experienced environmental in science and building science will evaluate buildings on the bases of occupant wellbeing. IAQ investigation differs from Mold investigation. IAQ investigation differs from Health and safety investigation.

Building investigation is different than sampling. Often investigators get off to a bad start by bringing in a bunch of meters, monitors and samplers and measuring in the occupied space where complaint originate. He recommends that you identify the person who knows most about the building and seek their assistance. If you think you know more about the building than the “work-in-expert” you’re wrong!

Building science seeks to ensure building performance and sustainability.  IAQ needs to find a place of its own as a subset of building science, where the focus is on sustainable buildings that are comfortable and healthful for occupants.  The future isn’t with sampling. The future is with operation of the building.

Self-improvement recommendations:Join IAQA and AIHA. Attend their short courses and seminars. Inadequate air exchange is the cause of many IAQ problems, become familiar with ASHRAE 62.  Seek advice on industry forums and blogs.

Building investigators need to investigate the building envelope using a manometer.  An advocate of training and certification by HERS Index | Home Energy Rating System | Energy Audit & Ratings … and/or BPI Certifications | Certifications for Skilled, Advanced Home Energy …

Tracer. There was no method to account for the quality of air people breathe in buildings. A need for a superior method other than the sulfur hexafluoride being used is needed. Vertex developed a tracer method that is quantifiable in which an air mass can be labeled and measured in real time. The tracer is a blend of citrus terpene/alcohol which is atomized and can be traced by Tiger Select Benzene & Total Aromatic Compound (TAC) PID.

ASHRAE 62 outlines minimum requirements for outdoor air supplied to occupied spaces. It’s primary data, as first we need to ensure that the air being supplied to the occupied spaces is free of contaminate and clean.

IAQ is dependent upon the HVAC system. When occupants are concerned about the quality of air being supplied visually inspect the mechanical system. Checklist: Fresh air intake- is there a dead pigeon or is it close to smoke stack or kitchen exhaust? Cleanliness of: Mixing box, Coils and filters, Condensate pan. Does the ductwork contain friable fiberglass? Are the interiors of the VAV boxes, Return plenum, and ductwork clean?

Tips for residential investigations in NYC:

When you live in NYC, everything is indoors. Everything is within your living space and storage areas. Few NYC buildings have outdoor air supply. On residential investigations occupant behavior is the dominant of contaminate.  Also consider stack effect and occupant activity.

Report writing tips:

Make sure you begin by drafting a statement of objectives (the why you are there, ie. you are there in response to a complaint.) Based on the complaint, I will carry out the following tasks (ie. interview building manager and superintendent, inspect the HVAC system. Objectives, observations measurements and tasks. Results of observations, measurements and tasks.

PRV on mold projects? Recommends a visual inspection by a 3rd party to ensure that all water sources have been repaired , that affected locations were subsequently addressed and remediated.

Will & won’t. He will perform mold sampling. He won’t interpret the results. Sample results are either consistent with observation or are an anomaly. In the event of an anomaly you need to learn why?

Mold amplification is an indicator of a problem, remediate the conditions that result in mold.

Microbiome research. Complex microenvironment. DNA sequencing is characterizing more and more. Sequencing can tell from the mix what is typical and atypical.

Current measuring methods are unreliable. Spore trap sampling is unreliable. It’s knowledge of building science that’s most important. Visual inspection and moisture mapping are more important than sampling

The International Building Code which requires tight buildings is a big problem in new commercial high-rise buildings. The combination of: tight envelopes, use of VAV control, reliance upon occupancy sensors and passive ventilationhasn’t done a good job providing good air.Eliminating infiltration will cause IAQ problems.

ATP. Worthwhile in controlled environments and for before and after remediation comparisons.

Today’s music:

Friday the 13th Original Theme Song  –  YouTube

Z-Man signing off

Trivia Question:

What is the air sampling accuracy of the true value given the errors during calibration, sampling and analytical methods?


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