ATLANTA - While the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) does not make findings as to the health and safety impacts of the indoor environment, its activities and publications should consider and reference findings by cognizant organizations, according to a recent policy set by ASHRAE.

"The policy is a formal affirmation of long standing practice and consistent with the founding documents of the Society," said Lee Burgett, chair of an ASHRAE ad hoc committee that proposed the policy. "To do otherwise would be to abdicate our responsibilities to our members and to society at large. Also, it is important to understand that ASHRAE will rely on other cognizant organizations to establish acceptable levels of exposure."

The policy states that "consistent with the ASHRAE Certificate of Consolidation, Bylaws, and Code of Ethics, ASHRAE activities and publications including but not limited to position documents, handbooks, special publications, standards and guidelines, technical and educational programs, and conferences shall consider health and safety impacts where appropriate. While ASHRAE does not make findings as to the health and safety impacts of environmental exposures, ASHRAE activities and publications where appropriate shall consider and reference findings issued by cognizant organizations with the appropriate scope and expertise."

The policy was adopted by the board of directors at ASHRAE's 2004 Annual Meeting. The policy follows a 2000 decision that ASHRAE would address health issues related to the indoor environment in its standards.

The health issue was raised after a petition approved in 1999 by the Society's membership required that ASHRAE's ventilation and indoor air quality standards not make claims for health, comfort, or occupant acceptability. A committee was appointed to examine the issue and present its findings. After reviewing precedents set by the Society, including standards, bylaws, the Code of Ethics, and guidelines, the committee presented its findings in 2000, including affirmation of the implied policy that ASHRAE standards consider health impacts where appropriate.

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Publication date: 08/23/2004