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Other Indoor Air Quality Issues


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's)
The term VOC is a broad classification of thousands of organic gases. VOC emission from material is commonly known as "off-gassing".
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaing, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products.
Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them and to some degree when they are stored.
EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, reguardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.
Source: USEPA, The Inside Story, www.epa.gov

While it is nearly impossible to eliminate all indoor VOC's the State of Vermont's Department of Health offers these suggestions for reducing exposure.

  • Increase ventilation. In some cases, this can be done by opening the windows and doors to provide fresh air from the outside. Installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens and properly maintaining air filter systems will also help with air quality. Use porducts that contain VOC's outdoors whenever possible; use indoors only if the area is well-ventialated. Combustion fumes can also be a source of VOC's, so make sure furnace, chimneys and stove pipes are in good condition.
  • Reduce your use of household chemicals. Consider using cleaning products that do not contain VOC'c such as baking soda, vinegar or borax. If you have clothes dry-cleaned, air the clothes outside before bringing them into your home. Some interior paints are solvent-free or contain very low levels of VOC's.
  • Read and follow directions for use on the label. The maker of the product can supply you witha a Material Safety Data Sheet which contains more information about safe use of the product. Keep products in original containers so that safety information is not lost. Do not mix household products, even for disposal, unless specified in the directions.
  • Store Chemical products properly in an area not normally occupied by people, such as a garage or shed, and safely out of the reach of children.

Source: Vermont Department of Health,

The EPA has a lot of information about VOC's and other indoor air quality issues:

Call our office for a price quote on testing for VOC's or Toxic Organics.
Radon & Mold Professionals

Formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent-smelling gas which can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea and difficulty breathing in some humans exposed at elevated levels (above 0.1 ppm) High concentrations may trigger attacks in people with asthma. There is evidence that some people can develop a sensitivity to formaldehyde.
It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. May also cause other effects listed under "organic gasses"
Sources of formaldehyde include pressed wood products (hardwood, plywood, wall paneling, particleboard, fiberboard) and furniture made with these pressed wood products, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), combustion sources and environmental tobacco smoke, durable press drapes, other textiles and glues.
Source: USEPA
Call our office for a price quote on testing for formaldehyde.
Radon & Mold Professionals

Full Particle ID:
Full Particle ID incorporates physical testing with Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) to identify nearly all particles from cotton fibers, dander and dust mites to unusual materials such as carbon black, metal oxides and minerals. This analysis is best performed in conjunction with PCM cassettes or other media to identify any fungal allergens. This method is the perfect procedure for initial site surveys where Indoor Air Quality is in question.

General Information

Legionella are small gram-negative rodshaped bacteria.  Over 40 individual species of Legionella are known.  The majority of human infections are caused by the species Legionella pneumophilaLegionella pneumophila was first discovered following a pneumonia outbreak at the 1976 Convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. 


The species Legionella pneumophila is divided into sixteen subgroups (called serogroups).


There are two forms of Legionellosis, pontiac fever and the more severe Legionnarires’ Disease.

Pontiac Fever:

Pontiac fever is a less severe form of Legionellosis which is charaterized by flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain) lasting 2-5 days.

Legionnaires’ Disease:

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal illness involving pneumonia.  Early symptoms include musclepain, loss of appetite, headache, high fever, dry cough, chills, confusion, disorientation, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Later symptoms include chest pain and difficulty breathing.  It is difficult to distinguish this disease from other pneumonias. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important.  Treatment consists of intravenous administration of antibiotics.


There are no reports of naturally infected animals.  Scientists may artificially infect experimental animals (such as guinea pigs and gerbils) with Legionella to study disease.



Legionella are mostcommonly found in water, including groundwater, fresh and marine surface waters, and potable (treated) water.  Legionella are protected againist standard water disinfection techniques, by their symbiotic relations with later microorganisms.


Legionella are relatively resistant to standard water disinfection procedures and, can occur in potable water. These bacteria have been found in water distribution systems of hospitals, hotels, clubs, public buildings, homes, and factories.  Other waters in which Legionella have been found include cooling towers, evaporative condensers and whirlpools.  These bacteria may be transported from potable water to air by faucets, showerheads, cooling towers, and nebulizers.

Transmission to Humans:

Legionella are transmitted directly from the environment to humans. There is no evidence of human-to- human or animal-to-human transmission of these bacteria.  Potable water is the most important source of Legionella.  Humans may inhale contaminated aerosols or aspirate small amounts of contaminated drinking water. No vaccine is available to prevent infection.


Cases of legionellosis (any disease caused by Legionella) have been reported in North and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Africa.  National surveillance programs areconducted in the United States, 24 European countries (including England), Australia, and New Zealand.  Legionellosis outbreaks most frequently have been attributed to contaminated potable water, cooling towers, or components of water distribution systems.  Outbreaks in hospitals have been linked to hospital potable water supplies, air conditioning systems, and cooling towers.  Travelers can be exposed to Legionella in contaminated hotel potable water or contaminated whirlpool spas. Community outbreaks are caused by exposure to a wide variety of sources, but potable water and cooling towers are the most common.


The general population (healthy individuals) is fairly resistant to infection.  Certain groups of people are at increased risk for contracting legionnaires’ disease, including: hospital patients who require intubation, have received ventilation assistance, or are receiving respiratory therapy people taking corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs solid organ transplant patients, especially those requiring dialysis people with certain chronic health conditions (chronic obstructive pulmonary diease,diabetes, head or neck cancer, or end-stage kidney disease) heavy smokers or drinkers Legionnaires’ disease in these people may be associated with more severe illness and increased mortality.


Environmental samples should be collected by swabbing areas where water flows (such as faucets and shower heads).  The specimen should be concentrated by filtration, treated with an acid buffer to enhance Legionella recovery, and cultured on a selective buffered charcoal yeast extract (BCYE) agar medium.  Culture assays are the most common tests used to detect Legionella in environmental and biological samples.


Control methods designed to disinfect an entire water distribution system include :

thermal (super heat and flush)
copper-silver ionization

Control methods designed to disinfect only a specific portion of a water distribution system include:

ultraviolet light sterilization
instantaneous steam heating.

Selecting one or a combination of these two types of control methods would be best for eradicating Legionella colonies and preventing recolonization of the water distribution system.


EPA has established a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) of zero organisms for drinking water.  An MCLG is a non-enforceable guideline based solely on an evaluation of possible health risks, taking into consideration a margin for public safety.


• EPA has established the Safe Drinking Water Hotline, a toll-free number for further information on drinking water quality, treatment technologies, and for obtaining Health Advisories or other regulatory information.

• Safe Drinking Water Hotline:
9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Monday-Friday (excluding holidays)

• Your state or county health officials or experts in your state’s Department of Environmental Protection or Natural Resources may also be of assistance

Author: Joe Frasca

Call our office for a price quote on testing for Legionella Bacteria.
Radon & Mold Professionals

Please contact our office to schedule:
Radon Tests / Mold Assessments (inspections) & Sampling
Formaldehyde & VOC Tests / Allergen Screening

John Cosgrove, CIE,
Radon & Mold Professionals

188 1st Street, Bonita Springs, FL 34134
(239) 498-4619
(239) 948-9717

State of Florida Licensed Mold Assessor MRSA#5

John Cosgrove, CIE
Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist, (CIE)
Board-awarded by the American Council for Accredited Certification
State of Florida Licensed Mold Assessor / license #MRS 5
FL DOH certified Radon Measurement Technician, R1867


Naples Mold Inspector
FL Licensed / Certified Indoor Environmentalist

Greg Gomez, CIEC,
 State of Florida Licensed Mold Assessor / license #MRSA763
Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist Consultant, (CIEC)
Board-awarded by the American Council for Accredited Certification
FL DOH certified radon measurement tech R 2191

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Other Indoor Air Quality Issues

John Cosgrove, CIE 
Radon & Mold Professionals 

Naples: 239-498-4619
Ft Myers: 239-948-9717 
Toll Free: 800-881-3837
188 1st Street, Bonita Springs, FL 34134 


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