New Indoor Air Quality Investigator's Guide


The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently released the 3rd edition of The IAQ Investigator’s Guide with significant contributions from EH&S’s Occupational Health & Safety Specialist, Ellen Gunderson. IAQ or “indoor air quality,” is a term that refers to the air quality within buildings, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. This practical guide is a tool to help industrial hygienists, building managers, safety professionals and others methodically investigate, identify and mitigate IAQ issues.

AIHA is a leading association for occupational health and safety professionals, with more than 10,000 members dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge to protect worker health. The third edition of the Guide has up-to-date information to assist investigators in conducting an IAQ investigation, including tools, checklists and links to online resources.


The IAQ Investigator’s Guide covers:

  • How to approach an IAQ investigation
  • Building-related illnesses

  • HVAC systems

  • Biological and chemical contaminants

  • Sampling and interpreting results

  • Risk communication

  • Report preparation

UW's Ellen Gunderson serves on AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality Committee, and she edited and co-authored with committee members both the second and third editions of the Guide, which has been an AIHA best seller.

EH&S is proud to have a nationally recognized subject matter expert in indoor air quality on staff. To be a good IAQ investigator “you have to be a good detective,” says Ellen. “Some IAQ issues can be minor and straight-forward to resolve. Others may be quite complex, where you need a team of professionals, including building maintenance and engineering staff, medical professionals, and occupational health and safety specialists, to thoroughly investigate and address the issues.”

What is one of the most memorable IAQ issues that Ellen has investigated? Before she came to UW, an employee in her former workplace complained of small black particles accumulating on her desk and thought it was from the ventilation system. White pieces of paper strategically placed in her work area confirmed the accumulation of tiny black fibers, but the air vent was not the source. After further observations, Ellen realized that the woman’s sweater was shedding. Case closed!

For more information about IAQ, and who to contact if you think you have an IAQ issue in your work area, see the Indoor Air Quality page.