Occupational and Environmental Monitoring

Employees at UCSF may be exposed to possible hazards in their workplace that are not directly related to their occupation or work process(s). Contaminants in their immediate work area could originate from external sources, including from outdoors, from neighboring departments, or even internally from the furniture or carpets in their room. The following programs comprise the environmental monitoring program at OEH&S:

Bio-Aerosol Monitoring

In order to maintain an environment that minimizes the potential exposure of immunocompromised patients to pathogenic fungi, periodic and case-based air sampling for pathogenic fungi will be conducted by OEH&S in conjunction with the Infection Control Department. Strategies by OEH&S include pre-sampling walk through assessments, Biotest and/or Andersen Impactor sampling and particle counting. Ongoing, weekly Biotest samples are analyzed by the Microbiology Department and results are forwarded to OEH&S. Contracts Management and Building Management should advise OEH&S and Infection Control of upcoming construction or maintenance projects that may adversely affect the patient care environment. All suspect nosocomial infections will be evaluated by Infection Control and OEH&S may conduct appropriate sampling.

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

Employees need a comfortable work environment to perform at maximum efficiency. The presence of odors, dust and/or biological contaminants may seriously effect an employee’s ability to work or even contribute to adverse health symptoms. Complaints may arise from one or more employees at a work site. Symptoms such as headache, eye throat, and nasal irritation, dizziness, lack of energy, drowsiness, allergies and congestion are typical symptoms.

One area of considerable concern to UCSF employees is hazards from sources such as the environment within the work area (furniture, carpets, etc.) or activities outside (constructions, traffic, other departments, etc.). Although this type of exposure does not generate exposures that exceed any occupational regulations,
it does raise many comfort issues. In these cases, OEH&S routinely examines the ventilation system and sources of pollutants and makes every reasonable effort to optimize the quality of the work environment .

Ventilation Systems Evaluation and Monitoring

UCSF buildings are equipped with ventilation systems that may include air conditioning. Some of these systems may not provide a sufficient level of comfort to all employees. Complaints may arise from one or more employees at a work site. Symptoms may include headaches, eye, throat, and nose irritation, allergies and congestion, dizziness and fatigue, nausea, and general feelings of ill health. OEH&S Industrial Hygiene staff is prepared to evaluate any work site on numerous levels including the ventilation system, comfort parameters such as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide as well as sources of airborne contaminants from within and outside the work area.

Ventilation systems are evaluated from the source of fresh air into the building, amount of air entering and leaving the workspace and ventilation equipment maintenance. The quality of the fresh air intake can be affected by proximity to exhaust stacks, nearby construction, loading docks, traffic, etc. Air circulation within a workspace can be optimized to increase comfort level by evaluating the ventilation system registers, doors and windows as well as the location and movement of employees and visitors. Maintenance records can be inspected by OEH&S contacting the Building Manager. If sources of airborne contaminants are suspected, OEH&S is capable of conducting the appropriate monitoring and evaluation of results.

Air Emissions Program

UCSF uses chemicals and radionuclides for research and health care. Small amounts of chemical and radionuclides are evaporated during usage regardless how carefully one handles chemicals. Vaporized materials exit from building exhaust stacks which are located on the rooftops of the campus’s buildings. Although UCSF meets all emission standards, as a prudent practice, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety (OEH&S) conducts periodic rooftop exhaust air monitoring to ensure environmental and worker safety. This program deals with air emission monitoring but does not address other issues such as stationary sources, permitting, and enforcement.

From the chemical inventory list for the campus, high users of radioactive materials and chemicals are identified. For chemicals, special attention will be applied to hazardous chemicals or those which could draw attention because of noxious odors. However, general air monitoring is also performed to identify the broad spectrum of chemicals at various locations. For service, call OEH&S at 476-1300.

De-Ionized Water Quality Control

De-ionized water quality for labs can be monitored regularly by taking aliquots from supply sources and sending them to a certified water quality laboratory for analysis. Collection of samples would be done in accordance with a standardized water collection protocol. This pro-active sampling would monitor the integrity and effectiveness of the de-ionized water that is supplied by Facilities Management to the laboratories and clinics.

UCSF must interact with numerous agencies including the City and Country of San Francisco Health Department, San Mateo County Health Department, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Cal-EPA, Cal-OSHA, California State Department of Health Services et al. If any inquiries are made by these agencies, please contact OEH&S at 476-1300 for assistance. Time and effort expended by UCSF staff will be minimized because OEH&S is well versed with agency requirements and procedures.

Community Air Quality and Noise Surveys

UCSF responds to community concerns about noise, chemicals, and vibrations that originate from our facilities. OEH&S staff include persons who are Certified Industrial Hygienists (C.I.H.), Certified Safety Professionals (C.S.P.), Registered Environmental Health Sanitarians (R.E.H.S.) and Certified Hazardous Material Managers (C.H.M.M.). Personnel are trained and have the necessary equipment to monitor off site, assess exposure and address community concerns. Emissions from UCSF equipment is covered under the Air Emissions Program in Environmental Monitoring section. Contact OEH&S at 476-1300 for additional information.