It was a mild Valentine’s Day in Traverse City, Mich., known as one of the best tourist spots in the Great Lakes State, abundant with summer and winter outdoor activities. It is also home to the Traverse City Chapter of the American Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Council. On this day, in a restaurant whose parking lot was surrounded by six- to eight-foot-high snowbanks, members of the chapter gathered to hear my presentation titled “Carbon Monoxide: Prevention and Detection.”

I was more than happy to make the five-hour trip from my home to talk with people who really care about IAQ issues, in particular carbon monoxide poisoning. I was, and am, impressed with the dedication of the members who have a genuine interest in solving IAQ issues for their commercial and residential customers. I was especially impressed by the Chapter Director, Sheryl Early, who plays a very active role in her community. Early runs Early Environmental Consulting Inc. in Traverse City, and she volunteers a lot of her time to recruit and provide education for chapter members. She took time out to discuss some of the issues affecting the American IAQ Council.

News Business Management Editor John R. Hall confers with Rod Lowes of the Traverse City Area Public Schools (left) and Sheryl Early, Traverse City chapter director of the American IAQ Council (right).

The Local Chapter

“We have approximately 20 to 25 regular attendees, mostly from our local area, but we have drawn members from around the state,” Early said. “Once you join the American IAQ Council, there are no additional dues to become a member of a local chapter.”

Early thinks this dues structure hinders her recruiting efforts. “This makes it difficult for us to market our workshops to individuals and organizations concerned with IAQ issues,” she said.

The Traverse City Chapter was initiated in August 2001. The membership is diverse.

“We have professionals from the following occupations: schools, hospitals, environmental consultants, remediation contractors, builders, nurses, and mechanical contractors,” Early said.

The chapter’s goals reflect the goals of the national council. “The goal of the American IAQ Council is to collect and disseminate information with regard to various indoor air quality issues,” Early noted. “We are trying to connect professionals from a variety of backgrounds with the latest information or technologies as they relate to various IAQ issues. In addition, we want to give them an opportunity to network with each other.

“It is also my hope that by sharing the latest information with others, we can avoid the pitfalls of the earlier asbestos abatement industry, where until the industry was regulated, there was an abundance of ‘rip and tear’ contractors.”

Identifying, Addressing

Early commented on some of the biggest IAQ issues facing council members and the general public.

“By far, the biggest concerns right now are on the mold issues,” she said. “Without any legislation or regulations denoting a ‘safe’ level of exposure, there are many questions regarding the health and safety of building occupants when mold has been detected.

“This is an old topic which has been brought into the forefront again as a result of the building industry tightening the building’s ability to breathe. As a result of the growing issue of mold, and the human suffering, every industry is being affected or held accountable. This includes the insurance companies, HVAC contractors, builders, roofers, and any contractor in between.

“The Traverse City Chapter addresses these issues through workshops where we bring in various professionals to give presentations on their area of expertise. It is our hope we can educate others. We have also held roundtable discussions where attendees are able to have their questions answered by others within the group, share information on their companies’ services, and share a new product or technology which worked or did not work for them.”

Early said that the mold topic often gets the wrong focus. “The unfortunate situation with regard to much of the media coverage concerning mold is the presentation of ‘worst cases,’” she stated. “Many of the articles I have read or the stories on the newsmagazine television shows are presented in a way to create additional fears by showcasing the stories of families being forced into hotels or becoming homeless following the discovery of mold and illnesses in the families.

“I would like to see more media coverage presented in responsible reporting where the known health effects, the importance of proper installation of all building components, and how to control moisture in buildings can be communicated without creating a lot of fear.”

Member Benefits

Early described some of the benefits of joining an IAQ Council Chapter.

“When they become a member of the American IAQ Council, the members will receive newsletters with several pages of information, which may include new or proposed legislation, articles printed from ASHRAE, EPA, or other organizations, along with other information on various IAQ topics,” she said. “Members have an opportunity to post their business information on the national Web site. There are special rates for training and local workshops.”

There are benefits at the local level, too, noted Early. “Part of our goal is to provide opportunities for networking. It can be very helpful to HVACR members to meet other professionals from other industries from around the state of Michigan who are concerned with IAQ issues. I know when I am asked by my clients for referrals to quality HVACR contractors, the names that come most readily to me are those who are members or active within our group.”

American IAQ Council

Among the services offered by the American IAQ Council is a special HVAC-IAQ Workshop, which is hosted by the national chapter in Phoenix, Ariz. The workshop is offered every month, and information can be obtained online

The workshop covers numerous topics, including:

  • Basic HVAC theory;

  • Basic equipment types and designs (VAV, VFD, etc.);

  • Standards and guidelines (ASHRAE 62, 55, 129, etc.);

  • Filtration and air cleaning (ASHRAE 52);

  • Psychrometrics (humidity, temperature, and dewpoint);

  • Blueprints for HVAC systems in IAQ investigations;

  • Air balance (testing, adjusting, and balancing);

  • Energy management systems and IAQ;

  • Demand control ventilation and IAQ;

  • IAQ measurements for ventilation effectiveness;

  • Ventilation’s effect on sick building syndrome;

  • Ventilation’s effect on bio-aerosol sampling data; and

  • Case studies (residential and commercial).

    For more information on the American IAQ Council, visit its Web site or call 800-942-0832. If you’d like a copy of my CO PowerPoint presentation, please drop me a line.

    John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax),

    Publication date: 04/14/2003