When renovating an occupied office, multi-unit residential or commercial building, it’s likely that office workers or nearby residents will continue their daily lives in the building while you work. Unless you are proactively taking steps to manage indoor air quality (IAQ), it’s also likely that construction dust is migrating throughout the building, floating through vents and creeping into other tenants’ units.
When unmanaged, this job-site dust can cause health issues and damage sensitive equipment and electronics. The risks grow as the number of people around the job site increases, especially if an occupant suffers from asthma, allergies, heart disease or any other serious health conditions. With more than 12 million Americans suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it’s likely that high-density buildings will have occupants that are sensitive to air contaminants. The clients who commissioned the project don’t want to be breathing in potentially dangerous particles, such as lead, silica and asbestos, and their unsuspecting neighbors certainly don’t either.
Don’t Sweep it Under the Rug
You can maintain good IAQ by ensuring that job-site dust is contained and eliminated before it can spread throughout a room or building. According to a study by MMR Research Associates Inc., 68 percent of clients who experienced a remodeling project were displeased with how dust was managed.
Keep these best practices in mind:
- Isolate the work area. Create temporary walls and designate one main entryway to the work area. Use poly sheeting to help contain dust.
- Seal vents. Ductwork for furnaces or central air systems are main pathways for remodeling dust. Whether the systems are running or not, registers and air returns in the work area must be sealed and closed. Make sure all air filters are changed during and after construction.
- Control building airflow. Establish a negative air pressure environment, maintain proper ventilation, and circulate outdoor air inside when possible during the project and immediately after completion.
- Capture airborne dust. Incorporate the use of HEPA air scrubbers during the remodeling process. For example, the BuildClean Dust Control System can eliminate up to 90 percent of airborne dust on the job site and, consequently, reduce cleanup time.
Working in occupied commercial environments comes with a unique set of challenges that can quickly escalate without proper planning and consideration. You can keep clients, occupants and neighbors satisfied by caring about issues and how they affect others. You wouldn’t complete a lengthy painting job in an office during normal working hours or jackhammer a concrete surface in a residential unit at night. Dust can be just as disruptive—if not more—unless you follow best practices to minimize it.