Indoor Air Quality

Updated April 15, 2011

Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) enhances occupant health and comfort and contributes to increased workplace productivity and a general sense of well-being. Poor indoor air quality has the opposite effect and may result in drowsiness, headaches, eye irritation, and other "generalized symptoms".

For some IAQ/odor issues, you may be able to solve it yourself, or obtain some information to assist EHS.  Common sources of odor problems and what to do are below:

  • Indoor construction activities odors from paint, glues, sealants.  Check for painting, installing floors, carpets, etc..  When construction is planned in an area, there is usually a Project Manager contact to address any concerns about such projects.  EHS works with Project Managers to resolve problems, but building occupants can also call the project manager to resolve the problem.
  • Trash barrels, refrigerators or a forgotten lunch in a deskrotting food odor. (Check for this before calling EHS.  IF a trash barrel needs emptying, contact Custodial Services.  Maintain refrigerators.)
  • Diesel or vehicle exhaust odors check for vehicles near building air intakes or outside windows and let EHS know if you see this.
  • Sewer gas odors Drain traps that have dried (seldom used sink and floor drains).  Adding water usually resolves this problem.  Contact Facilities to have drain sealed if it is never used.  Implement a schedule to regularly introduce water to the drain.
  • Dead animal smell common at beginning of winter when rodents search for places to nest inside.  (Contact Custodial Services)
  • Musty, mold smell Look for water damage, or determine if there were any water problems, or you can see visible mold growth.  Contact EHS for an evaluation and recommendations.

For an investigation of an indoor air quality (or odor) concern, contact the EHS Office at the main number (617-45(617) 452-3477) or email .

Temperature and Humidity Issues

If the problem is a comfort issue related to temperature and/or humidity, contact the Department of Facilities for assistance. Click here to access Facilities information on temperature concerns and link to the Facilities Work Request site. Facilities will contact EHS if they are not able to identify and resolve the problem.


Smoking may contribute to poor IAQ. With few exceptions it is prohibited in all spaces of all MIT buildings. Click here for details

For more details on IAQ and EHS response procedures for indoor air quality complaints see the EHS IAQ SOP.