Do’s and Don’ts Prior to Indoor Air Sampling at Child Care Centers

Whenever we prepare for sampling or monitoring of Indoor Air including for a Child Care Center or any inhabited space in fact, we notify the staff/occupants verbally and in writing, of certain actions or inactions that we strongly suggest they undertake. For Child Care Centers:
“Your staff is to show up for work without wearing any perfume, cologne and/or similar products, not to apply nail polish or use nail polish remover during their time at work and not to use any cleaning products or air fresheners at least two (2) days prior to sampling and until sampling is complete. We also suggest no cooking be conducted.”
This is to ensure that they did not add contaminants to the indoor environment which may be detected upon analysis of the sample(s) taken and indicate non-acceptable air quality. Those contaminants include a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). For perfumes, colognes and indoor air refresheners, these compounds are not “accidentally” released but purposely, being that these chemicals/compounds produce the desired odors. In the case of cleaners, disinfectants, wood strippers or coatings, nail polishes and nail polish remover, they rely on VOC’s for chemical reactions, bonding, disinfection and/or drying. In the case of nail polish and some hair products, formaldehyde is the primary contaminant of concern which is why indoor air sampling is required when the child care centers’ former use include such operations. Even showing up with newly dry cleaned clothing or recently treated hair may cause unacceptable air quality readings.
When we do detect unacceptable contaminant concentrations, we assess their source and hopefully we can attribute them not to the building itself and a condition not easily changed but instead, attribute them to the actions or inaction of the staff and a condition that is only temporary and rectifiable. In many cases, another sampling event may be required to prove the source has been eliminated.