How do residents of Massachusetts seek information about indoor air quality and address potential concerns with air quality in their residence or in public buildings? A brief introduction to information and services that are available through Massachusetts state and local agencies regarding indoor air quality is included in this wiki.
Note: The Massachusetts Department of Health declined to participate in our national survey regarding state agencies response to residential indoor air concerns. The information provided here was obtained through online searches.
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State Services and Indoor Air Quality Information
In Massachusetts, the Indoor Air Quality Program is in the Bureau of Environmental Health, which is in the Massachusetts Department of Health. The Indoor Air Quality Program consists of assessing basic indoor air quality parameters in public buildings and advising the public about mitigating indoor radon.
The Indoor Air Quality Program (IAQ) evaluates public buildings for basic air quality factors such as ventilation, habitat for microbial (mostly mold) growth, and harmful combustion products. For these factors, the IAQ tests public buildings’ carbon monoxide (CO2), temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), and may test other contaminants such as various volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Reports for public buildings that have been assessed by the IAQ are compiled by town and available on the website. Note that, under Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 111, section 5), the IAQ only pertains to public buildings.
For indoor air quality concerns in residential and private buildings, the IAQ recommends occupants and owners contact private environmental contractors. However, the local Board of Health may be of use to residents and occupants. Each local Board of Health is responsible for upholding the State Sanitary Code, including Chapter II, the Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation. Ventilation standards are included in this chapter, and can be important for assessing and improving indoor air quality. The local Board of Health must investigate buildings to assess compliance with this state code upon request. More information regarding local Board of Health duties, and the important work that the Board of Health does, can be found on the website of the Massachusetts Health Officers Association website and communication toolkit. Note that local Board of Health officers do not promote or enforce indoor air quality standards -- those do not exist for residential indoor air -- but they can enforce compliance with human habitation standards and building code, which may significantly impact indoor air quality.