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Evaluation of indoor environmental quality in police evidence intake, processing, and storage areas at a medical examiner's office

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      The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from employees in a medical examiner's office building. Employees in the police evidence intake, processing, and storage areas were concerned about inadequate ventilation. We visited in March 2015 to evaluate the areas of concern on the subbasement 1 and fifth floors. We measured temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide; visually assessed the building's heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems; measured airflow at supply diffusers; interviewed employees about their work history and health and safety concerns; and reviewed work-related injury and illness reports. We found that most temperature measurements were either above or below the recommended range for employee comfort. Some relative humidity measurements were below the ASHRAE guidelines. Carbon monoxide concentrations were low. Airflow from the supply diffusers on the subbasement floor was less than originally designed. Employees reported that they were often too hot or too cold, airflow and air circulation were inadequate, the workplace was not clean enough, and they lacked training on handling chemical or biological spills. Some employees reported upper and lower respiratory symptoms, skin symptoms, and other nonspecific. To improve the indoor environmental quality, we recommended the medical examiner's office (1) keep temperature and relative humidity within comfort guidelines, (2) supply air as designed and meet current ventilation guidelines, (3) improve housekeeping, (4) prohibit eating and drinking where evidence is handled and processed, and (5) develop standard operating procedures for cleaning spills. We recommended employees report work-related health concerns to their supervisor and seek information from a healthcare provider knowledgeable in occupational medicine and indoor environmental quality issues. Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2015]. Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of indoor environmental quality in police evidence intake, processing, and storage areas at a medical examiner’s office. By Beaucham C, Musolin K, Burr G. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH HHE Report No. 2015-0017-3240. NIOSHTIC No 20046534 2015-0017-3240.pdf
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