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HR Magazine - October 2000: Asking the Right Questions

By Robert J. Grossman  10/1/2000

HR Magazine, October 2000

Vol. 45, No. 10

When dealing with indoor air quality complaints, it helps to get specific information about the problem. Here are some easy-to-answer questions you can try that have been used by Alan Hedges, a professor at the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology in Ithaca, N.Y.

Worker Air Quality Assessment
Answer the following questions about environment comfort conditions and health symptoms that you may have experienced in the office during the past month.

Please indicate whether you have experienced each of the following environmental conditions in the office during the past month:

Condition Yes No
Air temperature too cold    
Air temperature too warm    
Too little air movement    
Air too dry    
Unpleasant odor in air    
Air too stale    
Air too dusty    

Source: Cornell Office Environment Survey questionnaire (short form)

SBS Symptom Checklist
Indicate whether you have experienced any of the following symptoms on at least a weekly basis during the past four weeks and whether this symptom got better when you were away from the office.

Symptoms Yes No
Irritated, sore eyes    
Sore, irritated throat    
Hoarseness    
Shortness of breath    
Stuffy, congested nose    
Excessive mental fatigue    
Headache    
Unusual tiredness, lethargy    

Source: based on Cornell Office Environment Survey questionnaire (short form)

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