Aigner McLaughlin Associates14523 Westlake Drive #20
Lake Oswego, OR 97035


Our environmental activities have focused largely on identifying pollutants and evaluating health hazards in indoor environments, i.e. indoor air quality (IAQ) or indoor enviromnental quality (IEQ) studies. We provide consultation, surveys, research, and remedial action recommendations for companies, individuals, institutions and industrial hygiene professionals. We also include, when appropriate, health hazard evaluation, data interpretation, and compliance information such as with EPA PM-10, ASHRAE, OSHA, and ACGIH standards.

Initial Survey

A typical sick building syndrome case involves a lot of "ground up" problem solving. We commonly conduct a "look see" with interviews initially to understand the general symptoms and their relation to the building environment. Interviews provide valuable information such as odor types, times and locations, symptoms such as fatigue or eye iritaiton or indications of hypersensitivity pneumonitis or allergic rhinitis. Visual inspection of HVAC equipment (cooling towers or air conditioning units), floors, carpets, walls, ceilings, supply and return vents, and windows provide many clues.

Sometimes at this stage one or more problems "jump out" such as water damage or fumes from an intake, leading to a quick resolution of the problem.

Sampling and Analysis

More stubborn problems require sampling and analyses. Depending on the results of the preliminary survey, a variety of sampling protocols and field analyses may be employed.

For biological agents we provide swab, impactor (Anderson Sampler), static plate, or bubbler sampling followed by lab analyses. One particular specialty is fungi identification; for bacterial pathogens such as Legionella we will collect samples but subcontract with other labs for the identification.

For chemical agents we use portable chemical analyzers, such as ozone, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide monitors. Chemical pollutants such as formaldehyde, chlorine, and VOC's can also usually be detected with portable equipment. Filters can be configured to trap a wide variety of either chemical or biological agents. Using (link)microscopy, we can also analyze filters for asbestos, fiber glass, pollen, mites, fungi, construction materials, and combustion products. Most of these dust components we can be further analyze to isolate potential sources.

For physical problems such as HVAC upsets, we also can monitor air flows, temperature and humidity.

Sometimes solving a problem reqires heroic efforts, such as resorting to special sampling procedures and gas chromatography - mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) analyses. Some particularly difficult cases have resulted in research projects, in which previously unknown problems were brought to light, e.g., "carpet emissions" presented at the ----- meeting in l99-.

Report and Remediation

Every case is unique, but many can be grouped into general catagories with similar causes, effects and remediation requirements.

A common problem in the Portland area is moisture induced proliferation of fungal spores. We have sen wide ranges in symptoms (both type and severity), depending on the specific types of fungi present.

A number of cases also involved black, sooty dust. Some causes were burning candles, oil burners, car exhaust, charcoal fines produced by vibrations in an air filter, and rubber belt frictional wear.

Depending on the type of problem encountered, a variety of remedial actions are usually available, with the client choosing the most suitable option. Follow up analyses to insure remediation are sometimes needed, for example, with radon, but our services usually end at this point, unless the client insists on sueing someone and requires expert testimony.

Home | Tissue Culture | Environmental | Chemistry and Microscopy