Construction and renovation projects can release contaminants such as dust, gases, organic vapours, odours and microbiological agents into the air.
Often these projects are carried out while the buildings or nearby premises are occupied and it is important to maintain an acceptable indoor environmental quality to protect the health of these occupants.

1. Initial Planning

  • Identify the key personnel responsible for construction and renovation-related activities and for airborne contaminant control.
  • Develop a construction or renovation impact assessment that describes anticipated work activities, along with their associated source contaminants, generation points and areas affected by the release of air contaminants.
  • Prepare a detailed budget for the contaminant control methods that are to be utilised.

2. Contract Specification

  • Identify the specific controls needed for the project along with the appropriate performance standards.
  • Require the general contractor to designate a representative to handle indoor environmental quality (IAQ) issues.
  • Ensure that the contractor is adequately trained and has the authority to immediately correct problems affecting IAQ as they arise.
  • Specify low-emitting materials to reduce the generation of indoor contaminants.
  • Specify conditions under which the release of contaminants would require an emergency response.



Control Methods

  • Schedule particularly heavy construction or renovation work during periods of low building occupancy.
  • Isolate work areas from occupied areas using impermeable barriers, negative and positive pressurisation and high efficiency particulate air filtration to prevent the migration of air contaminants from work areas to occupied spaces.
  • The ventilation system serving the construction or renovation areas should be disabled where possible.
  • Relocate building occupants out of the immediate vicinity of the work areas.

4. Good Work Practices

  • Use local exhaust ventilation with high efficiency filtration wherever dust generation is anticipated.
  • Use wet work methods to suppress dust generation and materials that result in little or no generation of airborne contaminants.
  • Identify routes for construction and renovation traffic through unoccupied areas and away from building openings to occupied spaces.
  • Use high efficiency vacuum cleaners and damp mops to regularly clean floors and ledges.
  • Bag and promptly remove all debris off site through demolition chutes on the exterior of the building and / or through other dedicated perimeter wall penetrations.
  • Locate dumper trucks and waste skips away from the outdoor air intakes of any operating ventilation systems or from doors to occupied areas.

5. Maintain Effective Communication

  •  Ensure regular and effective communication between the building occupants, the project manager, the contractor, and other personnel as appropriate.
  • Prior to the start of renovation and construction activities, communicate the scope of work and the precautions that will be used to control the release of contaminants to all concerned.
  • Throughout the project, keep the building occupants updated on progress and any other pertinent information.
  • Respond promptly to IAQ complaints from building occupants.
  • Where necessary, monitor for airborne contaminants in the work area to confirm that the IAQ is within acceptable limits.

Adapted from a NIOSH guideline

J Manganyi
May 2009