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indoor air: the control of microbiological quality

Domains of expertise related to: Indoor air Data analysis Qualité de l'Air intérieur

We currently spend over 90% of our time in indoor environments: workplaces, public spaces, shopping malls, houses ... Thus, the quality of indoor air should be controlled in the same way that the air quality outside. In a quality program for monitoring working conditions within the company or site of operation or production, a control of microbiological quality of indoor air can justify the establishment of appropriate means of protection of staff and people in public places, to prevent certain health risks especially respiratory. Politics, with the launch of Grenelle Environment 2, want to make this issue a strong point. The creation of new standards including the standard NF ISO 16000-17, Aims to standardize and validate the working methods in this area.

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What degrades the microbiological quality of air?


For communities (Institution Accepting the Public - ERP) and the tertiary sector, air quality deterioration is mainly due to poor maintenance of Air Treatment Unit (ATU) or air conditioning. This quality is also degraded by the fact of a large concentration of people in a restricted environment. Their presence brings micro-organisms that can be found on clothing, skin ... People are also creating air flow which carry the spores of moulds for example.

For the construction, air quality deterioration is related to rehabilitation of old housing parks or use of contaminated materials. Take for example the rehabilitation of an individual apartment. At the bathroom, it is necessary to destroy the wall to access water pipes. But a few years ago a leak undetected led to a deterioration of the wall on its inner surface. When the wall was destructed, a large number of spores are released. The workers on site are in direct contact with a high concentration of mould spores. It could be a potential risk to their health.

For habitat, poor air quality is related to infiltration, excessive moisture, lack of ventilation. To avoid any risk of energy loss, homes are equipped with double glazed windows and other insulation that prevents the go out of heat but at the same time limit air exchange: the air is less renewed. This creates conditions more prosperous to mould. When a person takes a shower, there is a production of water vapour that will stagnate in the room if there is no system of air extraction: heat and humidity are important factors for the mould development. The presence of wallpaper in this room will procure an advantage to mould growth by providing appreciated food.

Microorganisms: the unseen that we make visible

Air indoor pollution means also particles in the air. The first thing we thought is about chemical particles like on outside air pollution. In workplace, a large number of chemical molecules are the cause of pollution. Their concentrations are often important and appropriate detection tools can highlight the source of contamination and solve the problem. In habitat, the presence of chemical molecules is already controlled: the presence of lead, asbestos. Limit values can identify the risks.

Microorganisms are also invisible particles; however, the evaluation of this pollution is not systematic. The risks are variables: asthma, allergies, lung infections and the number of parameters is important: the exposure time, the nature of the micro-organism...

Our intervention

When we check the quality of your indoor air, two situations are distinguished:

For regular monitoring, we can offer training / or learning on our sampling methodology. Thus, using a biosampler (we can put at your disposal, on conditions) you make audit sampling yourself. You send the samples to our lab for analysis. A simple solution that will increase our responsiveness and reduce your costs.

The importance of early detection of contamination sources

With good information about the microbiological air quality you will:

Of course, we promise to respond to you in strict confidentiality (no communication outside the company, even outside of those references).

Some quotes

Mold and insurability

Preview: The excessive insulation of buildings since the oil crises of the 80s and the introduction of less expensive construction techniques have largely contributed to the indoor development of condensation zones that create a breeding ground for mould growth. Today, allergic diseases, attributed to the presence of these fungi, are increasing in frequency and severity, and pose a real public health problem.

Can we feared in Europe a "mold crisis" comparable to United States one? Can we, insurers and reinsurers, learn from the American crisis and be proactive? So many questions and issues that lead us to publish this newsletter, with the aim of taking stock of the insured part of the mold problem and open up avenues for reflection. [...]

Pierre-Denis Champvillard, Managing Director, SCOR

Mold: a second case of asbestos?

Preview: Some mold growing in buildings, are now accused of causing allergies, respiratory problems, memory loss. Fatal cases are reported.

Since prehistoric times, humans have always assumed that fungi appear and grow in damp places and poorly ventilated, without seriously affect his health. But today, certain moulds and fungi, especially the "black mould" (Stachybotrys chartarum) found in apartment, commercial, industrial or administrative buildings, schools, etc. are accused to be dangerous. Inhalation of spores may cause allergies, respiratory problems, memory loss. The problem has been obscured until now because of a misallocation of these diseases. Fatal cases have been observed in children and elderly or debilitated [...]


The health risks associated with the presence of mold in indoor environment

Preview: The presence of mould in indoor environment has become over the years a concern for health professionals and for the general population. Indeed, in recent years, more and more studies conducted in North America and Europe have highlighted a possible link between the presence of mould in indoor environment and various health damage. Similarly, the number of requests from citizens to public organizations in Quebec on this issue has increased significantly over the years, leaving a glimpse growing problem.

In April, the Ministry of Health and Social Services of Quebec gave the mandate to the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) to coordinate the production of a scientific report on the health risks associated with the presence of fungi in indoor environment. To achieve this, a working group composed mainly of representatives of the network of public health, especially areas of environmental health and occupational health, was created [...]

National Institute of Public Health of Quebec