Indoor Air Quality

Mount Holyoke College is committed to the health and safety of all members of the College community and maintaining a healthy indoor environment in all of our buildings.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines indoor air quality (IAQ) as the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. There are many factors that contribute to indoor air quality, a few examples are: ventilation, temperature and humidity levels, building materials, and cleaning products and other chemicals used in the building. Personal choices such as the wearing of fragrances, growing of house plants, and storage of food can also impact IAQ.

Indoor Air Quality Managers

The Director of Environmental Health, Safety, & Sustainability and the Associate Director of Facilities Management and Chief Engineer serve as the IAQ managers. All concerns pertaining to indoor air quality should be directed to them and they will initiate an initial investigation, determine the course of action, and, if necessary, contract the services of a professional consultant.

Reporting an IAQ Concern

To report IAQ concerns, contact Facilities Management at extension 2012. When calling, please provide as much detail as possible, including location, description of problem, when it was first noticed and any other information that may be helpful in identifying the cause. 

For emergencies, such as breathing difficulties, chemical spills, gray water (sewer) backups or spills, or any other emergency, move to fresh air and contact Campus Police immediately at extension 1-911 from a campus phone or 413-538-2304 from a cell phone or off campus. 

Investigation and Corrective Action

The initial investigation will include interviews with the occupants of the area with specific information requested from the person who initiated the complaint and a thorough visual inspection of the area and its air handling systems. The College has equipment to measure basic IAQ parameters including: temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, total volatile organic carbon, and particulates. If more extensive testing is warranted, a professional consultant is engaged. The investigation will refer to various guidance documents that are available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).

The occupants will be apprised of the findings of the investigation, the proposed corrective action, and the timetable for completion.

If mold growth is observed, the moisture problem will be identified and addressed and the mold contamination will be cleaned or affected components will be removed in accordance with the Mount Holyoke College Water Damage Response and Mold Remediation Policy. The extent of the contamination and size of the area involved will dictate whether College employees or contractors will do the work.

If the source of the mold is identified, testing will not be routinely conducted as remediating the condition should resolve the issue. Should the IAQ Managers determine that mold testing is warranted, a consultant will be called in.

Once the IAQ issue is resolved, the College will take steps to ensure that it does not reoccur by performing routine and preventative maintenance and/or other proactive measures. 

Renovations and New Construction

IAQ is a priority when renovating existing buildings or building new ones. Important aspects such as site location and space planning, building envelope and HVAC system design, material selection and work practices are carefully considered in the planning phases and throughout these projects.  

Plan Review

This plan will be periodically reviewed by Facilities Management and Environmental Health, Safety, & Sustainability to ensure we are using best possible practices and that our policy is in line with current regulatory guidance.