Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Virgin Islands community is being urged to be strategic in the way it analyses and assesses buildings as the Environmental Health Division seeks to bring awareness to indoor air quality issues.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Mr. Lionel Michael said while mold is to be considered among indoor air quality concerns, other factors such as ventilation, the ability to get fresh air into buildings, exhaust, stale air, housekeeping and external contaminants entering the building must be considered.
“That is why it is imperative that we intensify our efforts to analyse and assess buildings, not just from an engineering and availability standpoint.” Mr. Michael said. He also advised persons to consider architectural, spatial, functionality and airflow before occupying a building.
Mr. Michael said the division started out assessing buildings for air quality issues more intensely in 2018 after the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. He said in assessing buildings for air quality, parameters including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity levels, housekeeping, building layout, general sanitation and water intrusion are considered.
According to the Chief Environmental Health Officer, data has revealed that main problems associated with poor indoor air quality include high concentrations of carbon dioxide, moisture, high air temperatures combined with very little to no ventilation and uncomfortable office settings.
He added that other general sources of air pollutants indoors include furnishings, cleaning products, maintenance and personal care products along with outdoor sources such as vehicle exhaust, sewage and the Sahara Desert dust.
“If you can see mold in a building that means that moisture is coming in from somewhere, because mold cannot grow without moisture. There may also be mold coming inside from sources outside such as trees, galvanize, garbage and other products that can blow the mold inside,” Mr. Michael highlighted.
Persons having concerns regarding in-door air quality issues should first assess their homes and businesses and may contact the Environmental Health Division for advice at 468-5110.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.