SAK Environmental LLC provided emergency industrial hygiene services to the MassHire office in Lawrence, MA in response to occupant health complaints. MassHire, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) unified effort for employment, creates and sustains powerful connections between businesses and jobseekers through a statewide network of employment professionals.
Several employees reported poor air quality, ordors, headaches, and infections believed associated with the building's design. Union representitives demanded action. The building, owned by the CIty of Lawrence, and leased to MassHire is 126-year-old and 5-stories. Despite siginificant renovations in 2016 and favorable pre-occupancy air quality test results at that time, the City could not identify the alleged root cause for the complaints. SAK was hired by Northern Essex Community College, a major contributor to this MassHire office and experienced in facilities management to help solve the problem.
SAK completed an indoor air quality (IAQ) investigation, which included an 8-hour workday exposure monitoring and a microbial inspection of the building for the presence of visible mold and damp/wet building materials. A total of 44 mold air samples were collected as part of the investigation. Instantaneous and workday exposure monitoring was conducted for temperature, humidity, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds. SAK also partnered with a mechanical designer to evaluate the design of the existing building HVAC system for compliance with state building codes and industry guidelines for make-up air, air-exchanges and other design factors to see how they were impacting IAQ.
SAK was able to demonstrate that inadequate ventilation from HVAC system servicing the building had impacted the indoor air quality. The investigation found that he building’s HVAC system was not properly distributing fresh air throughout the building. It found that areas of the building were receiving less than the minimum fresh air required by Code and in some cases no fresh air at all. The client was able to use the report to request that the City make modifications to the building’s HVAC system.