Dear Editor —
This semester there have been air quality problems seriously affecting students and professors. We
believe these stem from the change in cleaning chemicals during the semester break. The procedure
for lodging an indoor air quality (IAQ) complaint says: “The agent responsible . . . may be
chemical,”* but does not include a cleaning agent on the list of causes.
We noticed that symptoms coincided with the use of these chemicals in and near the classroom
before or during class. Symptoms are: headaches, coughing, dry mouth, sinus problems, fatigue,
dizziness, chest tightness, itching, rashes, burning scalp, and eye, skin, respiratory and throat irritation.
The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) says: “The person or persons who are affected by the
indoor air quality shall contact their supervisor/department head. . . [who] will notify Facilities
Services (372-3227).” (We were told to contact Facilities as well. From our experience, it was also
helpful to contact HR.)
Facilities then starts an investigation. But, if an IAQ complaint “is complex or the agent(s) is/are
unknown,” Facilities “will work with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). The investigation shall
be . . . based on the perceived degree of hazard.”* Whose perception?
The SOP says that if a more rigorous investigation is needed, “the complainant will complete IAQ
forms** . . . . [which] will be sent to the supervisor/ department head . . . .” Do they just keep them?
Poor air quality can break down the immune system and can make one susceptible to more serious
illnesses. Chronic exposure may change one’s life by sensitizing the person.
If you have headaches or other symptoms that appear while you are in class and then subside,
report the problem to protect yourself and others. Good health is a precious right. We must work
together to protect the campus community’s health.
From Dr. Julia K. Gruber, Associate Professor of German and Dr. Colleen Hays, Associate Professor of French