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RULE §297.5Building Operation and Maintenance Guidelines

(a) Written preventive maintenance program. A written preventive maintenance program should be established for each public building to provide a healthy environment. The program should include procedures for the following.

  (1) HVAC Systems

    (A) Filters. A system filter change-out program should be developed and implemented. A filter upgrade program should be implemented if the filters do not meet the latest recommended efficiency of MERV 9 or higher. Some low capacity air handlers may only have sufficient capacity to utilize MERV 6 filters.

    (B) Coils and condensate drain systems. A cleaning program of the coil and condensate drain systems of the HVAC systems should be developed and implemented.

    (C) Cleanliness. The air supply and return systems and mechanical rooms should be kept clean and properly maintained.

  (2) Sewer traps. A sewer trap maintenance program should be developed and implemented to prevent sewer gas back drafts into buildings.

  (3) Emergency response plan. An emergency response plan for water leaks and other contaminant problems should be developed and utilized.

  (4) Records. A written maintenance record program should be developed and implemented.

  (5) Maintenance requirements. Adherence to product manufacturers' maintenance requirements should be required as a minimum.

  (6) Recommissioning. Scheduled recommissioning of the facilities should be conducted to facilitate efficient and healthy building operations.

(b) Training. Personnel should be educated and trained in the prevention, recognition, and resolution of IAQ concerns.

(c) Scheduling maintenance. Schedule and conduct maintenance activities that could produce high emissions (painting, roofing repair, pesticide applications) to minimize occupant exposure to indoor air contaminants. Develop and utilize effective ventilation protocols based on system capabilities, occupancy, and contaminant characteristics for each facility and operation. Increase ventilation in occupied areas as necessary to control odors.

(d) Housekeeping.

  (1) Custodial program. A written custodial program should be developed with specified cleaning procedures, schedules, quality levels, and chemicals allowed for each facility.

  (2) Storage. Storage and janitorial rooms should be kept clean and properly maintained. Air handling rooms should not be used for storage.

  (3) Supplies. Maintenance and operational supplies should be kept in order and properly labeled in a clean, dry room to prevent contamination of the air and infestation of insects and rodents. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) for all products should be readily accessible.

  (4) Cleaning procedures. Cleaning procedures and equipment should be selected to be effective and to minimize airborne dust.

  (5) Walk-off Mats. Use walk-off mats (barrier mats) to trap dirt at all entry ways into the building, including pedestrian entrances, loading docks, receiving areas, freight entrances, and garages.

(e) Tobacco Products. The use of any smoking tobacco products or smokeless tobacco products by employees or visitors should be prohibited in government buildings, within twenty feet of any entrance, and within twenty feet of the building's fresh air intakes. The use of such tobacco products should be permitted only in outside areas that have been designated for "Tobacco Product Use."

(f) HVAC systems.

  (1) Outside air. The HVAC systems should be operated to provide acceptable outside air with quantities in conformance with the most current and accepted standard, such as ASHRAE Standard 62, up to the equipment capabilities. Proper operation and flow rates should be verified annually. The outside intake should be covered with a grill to prevent insects or birds from entering the intake ducts; the grills need to be routinely inspected and cleaned to prevent clogging by dirt and debris. In humid areas, the outside air should be humidity-controlled if the outside air is vented directly into occupied spaces, is continuously left running, or the HVAC unit cannot handle the humidity load on very hot and humid days.

  (2) Positive pressure. The HVAC systems should be operated to provide a positive building pressure to significantly reduce the entry of outside contaminants, and provide more effective temperature and humidity control.

  (3) Moisture control. The HVAC systems should be operated to prevent excessive moisture that could cause microbial growth or high humidity.

  (4) Ducts.

    (A) Inspection. Periodic (annually is recommended) visual inspection of ducts for mold, dirt and deterioration should be performed.

    (B) Cleaning. Routine cleaning of ducts in well-maintained systems (i.e. systems that are sealed properly, have high efficiency filters that are correctly installed, and are being maintained per the manufacturers' instructions) is rarely required. Cleaning of ducts internally lined with fibrous or soft material that can be damaged by mechanical cleaning devices is discouraged. Replacement of these types of contaminated lined ducts is preferred. If need is indicated, the ducts should be cleaned using methods that will not expose occupants to potentially harmful substances. Where applicable, the National Air Duct Cleaning Association standards are recommended. The use of "blown in" chemicals to clean, seal or sanitize ductwork is discouraged.

    (C) Replacement. When a duct is repaired or replaced, those with internal surfaces that are easily cleaned, not damaged by typical cleaning methods, do not harbor dust and microbials, and that will not emit materials or gases that can harm the occupants should be used.

  (5) Drain pans. Condensate drain systems should be free of microbial growth and other debris. The condensate pan should drain completely so there is no standing water. The use of unregistered chemicals in the drain pans or on the coils to reduce mold growth that could cause air quality problems for the occupants is discouraged.

  (6) Exhaust air. Exhaust air systems should be operating properly and vented to the outside. Proper operation and flow rates should be verified annually.

  (7) Preconditioning. The HVAC systems should be operated for sufficient time prior to building occupancy to remove contaminants and to condition the air.

  (8) Access. If existing access to the HVAC systems does not allow proper inspection and maintenance, access ports, preferably hinged with good seals and latch(es), should be installed.

  (9) Responsibility. Assignment of responsibilities for maintenance and operations of all areas and systems is essential to an indoor air quality program.

  (10) Documentation. Documentation provided by design, construction and renovation projects must be maintained and updated.

  (11) Standards. Maintenance standards should be developed and maintained for all systems and operations.

(g) Microbial management. The control of the conditions that allow or encourage microbial growth should be a primary objective of building operations and maintenance.

  (1) Water intrusion. Damaged building systems or components that cause water condensation or water leaks in the building should be promptly repaired. Inspect the building for evidence of water damage and visible mold growth and promptly correct the problem. Areas that go unattended can soon become major problem areas.

  (2) Water damage. Porous materials that cannot be dried within 24-48 hours usually cannot be saved without great expense. Remove and dispose of water-damaged porous materials, such as sheetrock, fiberglass or cellulose insulation, carpets, mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, papers, and books. If water damage is from floodwaters that may contain sewage or from sewage backup, the water-damaged porous materials should be replaced and special cleaning is required for all hard surfaces. If large areas are water-damaged, desiccants and/or dehumidifiers may be necessary to remove excess humidity and prevent mold growth.

  (3) Cleaning/replacement. Promptly clean or replace materials contaminated with mold or other microbials. Contaminated porous materials should be replaced. Take precautions to prevent exposures to workers/occupants when cleaning and/or disinfecting with chemicals. When removing contaminated materials, handle the material carefully and gently to avoid dispersion of contaminant, and bag the material prior to removal from contamination site to prevent further contamination of adjacent areas.

  (4) Construction, operation and maintenance. To prevent microbial growth: exhaust the air directly to the outside in high moisture areas; prevent condensation on cold surfaces (i.e. windows, piping, exterior walls, roof or floors) by adding insulation, raising the temperature and increasing circulation; prevent water intrusion from rain and ground water by proper maintenance of the landscape, roof, and exterior structure materials; maintain relative humidity below 60%, preferably below 50%, at all times if possible; do not install carpet in areas where there is a potential moisture problem; and check the installation and operation of moisture barriers, weep holes, HVAC systems, roof, windows, and vents.

  (5) Water systems. Ensure that the following water systems are built, operated and maintained to prevent the growth of Legionella and other microorganisms that can become airborne: potable water systems, emergency water systems, heated spas, whirlpool baths, drip pans, architectural fountains, waterfall systems, cooling towers, fluid coolers, evaporative condensers, direct evaporative air coolers, misters, air washers and humidifiers. Treatment for these systems includes the use of chemicals, ionization and/or heat, depending on the system. Additional guidance can be found in ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000 "Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems."

  (6) Pest, bird and animal control.

    (A) Prevent entry. Pests, birds, bats, rodents and other wild animals should not be allowed to roost in or enter occupied buildings, including attics, plenums or in or near fresh air intakes, as they may carry disease and/or produce conditions conducive to the growth of disease-causing microbials. Professional assistance may be necessary for the removal of potentially dangerous live animals or if the area is heavily infested.

    (B) Contamination. Areas contaminated with animal urine, feces, nesting materials, etc. should be decontaminated, i.e., physical removal of waste and disinfecting of the area. Protection for building occupants and workers should be required during the process, using the procedures of United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS): "Histoplasmosis: Protecting Workers at Risk," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 97-146, September 1997.

  (7) Remediation. Microbial contamination on surfaces or in water reservoirs is unacceptable and should be removed by qualified personnel according to current recognized guidelines and standards to avoid dissemination and worker/occupant exposure. Appropriate steps should be taken to prevent future growth in these locations, without causing occupant exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

  (8) Sewage backups. Building occupants should be removed from any area flooded by sewage. The cleanup should ensure rapid decontamination (to include water extraction, cleaning and disinfecting) and drying of all wet surfaces. Contaminated porous materials should be replaced.

(h) Animals. If building activities require or allow certain animals in the building, ensure that they are in a controlled area with proper ventilation, are contained in enclosures that can easily be cleaned and that all animal waste is removed daily.

(i) Plants. Plants should be maintained in a healthy and clean condition. Plants that have been over-watered, over-fertilized, or have insect infestations contribute to poor air quality. The benefits of well-maintained plants in improving indoor air quality are insignificant in large areas or buildings.

(j) Loading dock operation. Vehicle exhaust should be prevented from entering enclosed work spaces (including air intakes and building openings) by installing barriers to airflow from loading dock areas (i.e. doors, curtains, etc.) and using pressurization.

(k) Remediation of contaminants. Use recognized best practices for the removal of toxic contaminants of concern (lead, microbial, asbestos, chemical, etc.) when performing maintenance, repairs or remediation. Always follow any applicable state and federal laws.

(l) Cleaning products.

  (1) Toxicity. The least toxic cleaning products needed to accomplish the task should be used. Sanitizers are not recommended for general cleaning.

  (2) Directions. Follow manufacturer's directions for cleaning products. The use of excessive amounts of cleaning materials can cause unacceptable IAQ.

  (3) Training. Assure that all personnel using cleaning products and hazardous chemicals have been trained in the proper usage and handling of such products as required by the Texas Hazard Communication Act, the Health and Safety Code, §502.010.

  (4) Labeling. The employer shall follow the labeling requirements of the Health and Safety Code, §502.007.

  (5) Ventilation. Adequate ventilation during and immediately after use of cleaning products should be used to minimize exposure to potentially harmful or irritating substances in the products.

  (6) Scheduling. Schedule the use of cleaning products when building is unoccupied to minimize exposure to students, staff and other occupants.

(m) Pesticide use.


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