Who We Are
Sterling IAQ Consultants Ltd. (Sterling IAQ) is a multi-disciplinary consulting firm. We provide expertise in the areas of indoor air quality testing, mould, hazardous building materials (asbestos, lead paint, etc.), sustainability and occupational hygiene & safety. We are located in Vancouver, BC however provide indoor air quality testing and a variety of consulting services to clients across Canada. With roots dating back to 1973, Sterling IAQ has evolved into a consulting group that strategically positions itself to be a leader among its peers and rivals. We pride ourselves in the provision of PROFESSIONAL and PRACTICAL customer/client service and ensuring that your needs are met.
At Sterling IAQ, we know very well that our customers are very important to us and their satisfaction is central to how we operate. If we had to document our internal philosophy into a motto, it would be …
“If we keep our customer satisfaction at a high level, the relationships with clients evolve into relationships that can extend for many years.”
Indoor air quality affects us all…
At work and at home, indoor air quality influences our mood, health and performance. Employers would like to ensure the work environment they provide to their employees offers conditions that are comfortable and healthy. Additionally, these employers would like to ensure these environments foster workers that are as productive as possible. Some studies have actually quantified that workers that are satisfied with their indoor environment are 4-10% more productive at their jobs than workers who are not satisfied with the environment. Just think about those numbers and how that relates to your workplace or business.
Performing indoor air quality testing can aid employers in ensuring their work place is a healthy environment for their employees. Contact our office for further details.
Sterling IAQ Consultants Ltd. was requested to investigate the source of a strange recurring odour in a building housing many different laboratories and offices. The odour was characterized as “sewer gas” and was primarily present in the laboratory rooms of the building.
The odour was not consistently present and appeared to be quite random. There was one room that appeared to be the epicentre of the odour and experienced the most frequent recurrence of the odour.
Sterling IAQ interviewed many workers from the building and conducted a thorough inspection of the building and its mechanical systems.
Sterling IAQ learned that, for some unknown reason, the laboratory fume hoods were left to operate continuously but the base building ventilation system operated during normal business hours. Additionally, even during normal business hours, the constant operation the fume hoods created a negative pressure within the building. And this negative pressure was stronger outside of normal business hours because the base building ventilation system was not operating.
When all the pieces of the puzzle were put together, it was concluded that the negative pressure created by the constant operation of the fume hoods expedited the drying out of the water in the P-trap of floors drains and then would occasionally draw in a “sewer gas” type odour.
Recommendations were made to only operate fume hoods when needed and to ensure the base building ventilation system was effectively balanced and provided sufficient amounts of outdoor air throughout the building.
The guideline for acceptable levels of radon in Canada has now dropped to 200 Bq/m3 – and the World Health Organization has published a 100 Bq/m3 guideline. In Canada, the guideline was reduced by 75% … so what does that mean?
Many commercial real estate clients we speak to reference the “high” risk versus “low” risk zones and perhaps do not consider their region as a concern with respect to radon. However, over the past few years, we have tested many commercial real estate buildings across Canada … and our results are somewhat alarming. We found that 25% of these tested buildings experienced radon concentrations higher than 200 Bq/m3 … but lower than 800 Bq/m3.
So in the past, these results would NOT have been considered elevated but now they exceed the new Health Canada guideline. The buildings shown to experience high levels of radon were located in Calgary, Prince George and Vancouver. Calgary has been thought to be a high risk radon area for quite some time but Vancouver and Prince George have not been thought to be high risk.
And these results are suggesting a few important facts:
- high levels of radon are not isolated to the lowest level of buildings – elevated radon was found in one building to be located on a level 2 levels from the lowest point in the building.
- ventilation is key – in poorly ventilated lower rooms/areas of commercial buildings, radon can accumulate to levels above guidelines.
- there does not need to be a basement for radon to be elevated – in 1 of our tested buildings that showed elevated radon, it was a slab on grade structure actually at the top of a small hill.
- concrete is a potential source of radon (radon may not just leak through cracks and openings in below grade walls/floors) – we observed poor ventilation combined with concrete wall/floors/ceiling/roof created elevated radon. In both of these buildings, elevated radon was not found below grade or at the lowest level.
So these results from Sterling IAQ and various other sources (Health Canada, CAREX Canada, etc.) do suggest that regular monitoring of radon in commercial buildings be conducted and mitigation take place if radon is found to be elevated.
UPDATE!! January 2017.
Sterling IAQ was asked to conduct a pre-demo hazmat survey of a 1991 house in North Vancouver. Our testing found the ceiling texture coat and drywall joint compound to be asbestos containing. Asbestos in the ceiling texture coat was detected but less than 0.5%. Asbestos in the drywall joint compound was 2%. This was extremely alarming as our findings of asbestos in post-1990 buildings in the past was limited to non-friable asbestos containing materials.
In British Columbia and many other jurisdictions, it is a general rule of thumb that buildings older than 1990 are the ones we should consider as potentially having asbestos containing building materials present. That year was originally published in WorksafeBC’s guidelines that support section 20.112 of the OH&S Regulation. That specific year has been removed from the main part of their guidelines but is still present in other supporting parts of the guideline.
Our experience has shown that asbestos is still potentially found in buildings constructed up to the mid 1990’s. One of our recent clients decided, for due diligence purposes, to conduct asbestos surveys of a variety of buildings constructed after 1990. Our inspection and testing results determined that both asbestos containing cement drain pipes and floor tiles were utilized in buildings constructed as late as 1995.
Now these are low risk materials if they are left undisturbed and in good condition. However, if these materials were left unidentified and work tasks required these materials to be cut or ground, there would have been significant worker exposure to asbestos.
So the moral of the story is that it is better to be safe than sorry and getting a hazmat survey done before renovation and demolition is always a good idea.