Investigation of indoor air issues

On this page, you will find advice on what to do if you suspect an indoor air issue in a building owned by the city. We also explain the city’s operating model in the investigation of indoor air issues.

On this page

What to do when you suspect an indoor air issue at a location owned by the city

If you suspect that the indoor air in facilities of the city is causing you symptoms or you feel that the indoor air quality is poor, follow the instructions below.

City staff

Report your indoor air quality concern to the site supervisor, e.g. the principal or another immediate supervisor.

Also report the symptoms to the occupational health services, as information gathered by the occupational health services will be used to assess the indoor air situation at the workplace.

Contact the occupational health services

Guardian of a pupil or a child in day care

Report your indoor air quality concern to the site supervisor, such as the school principal. If your child is symptomatic, inform the site supervisor and contact either the school nurse or the child’s own health station.

School nurses keep records of the prevalence of any symptoms related to indoor air and will refer pupils to the health station for further examinations if necessary.

Find your health station

Read more about school health care services

Procedure in case of suspected indoor air related symptoms of a pupil or a child in day care (pdf, in Finnish)

Procedure in case of a student’s suspected indoor air related symptoms (pdf, in Finnish)

Other facility users

Either report your concerns about the indoor air quality of the facilities to the site supervisor or use the city feedback system(Link leads to external service).

Give feedback on buildings(Link leads to external service)

What to do when you suspect an indoor air issue in a flat owned by the city

If you suspect that there is an indoor air or moisture issue in your flat or housing company, contact the housing health advisory service of the City of Helsinki Environmental Services.

Contact the housing health advisory service

Operating model for investigating indoor air issues

The City of Helsinki has an established operating model for investigating indoor air issues in its facilities. Multidisciplinary cooperation is used to solve the problem. Below is a brief description of the process for dealing with an indoor air issue in a city service building. 

  1. Detecting the problem

    • An employee/user detects an issue in the facilities or suspects that the indoor air is causing symptoms.
    • The employee/facility user reports the issue to a supervisor.
    • The supervisor forwards the report to the property manager.
    • The affected employee/user contacts the health care services.
  2. Checking the basics

    • The property manager inspects the building with the building management staff.
    • If any clear defects are found during the inspection, they are corrected. Such defects may involve the level of cleaning or the functioning of the ventilation system, for example.
    • If no cause is found, the property manager contacts the indoor air team.
    • If the problem can be solved at this stage, the process ends here.
  3. Preliminary review

    • A preliminary review is performed by an indoor air specialist, the property manager and the supervisor. Sometimes the problem can be solved during this visit, and no other surveys are needed.
    • The indoor air specialist submits an order for the necessary surveys to a consultant.
  4. Surveys

    • The indoor air specialist delivers the initial data for the survey (site drawings, previous condition evaluation and condition survey reports, as well as repair history documentation) to the consultant.
    • The consultant agrees with the supervisor on the survey schedule. If necessary, the consultant or the indoor air specialist interviews a staff representative, a maintenance worker and the property manager. It is also possible to prepare an online questionnaire for a wider range of respondents.
    • The consultant performs the surveys and prepares a survey report.
    • The indoor air specialist reports the results to the supervisor and the property manager.
    • The indoor air team prepares a bulletin on the survey results and further measures in the service building. The bulletin and the condition survey report are published in the Talotiedot (Building Information) service (in Finnish).
    • The supervisor passes on the information and bulletin to the staff and customers, such as the guardians of children. They also act as a liaison with the property maintenance staff.

    Read more about indoor air surveys

  5. Implementing the repairs

    • Once the causes of the indoor air issue have been identified, a decision on how to repair the building is made.
    • When planning repairs, it is also agreed how the success of the repairs will be verified.
    • A bulletin on the repairs to the users of the facilities is prepared.
  6. Follow-up and concluding the process

    • The situation is monitored as agreed. The users of the facilities are informed about any follow-up measures.

Roles of other parties in solving indoor air issues

Indoor air issues require management as a whole, as well as cooperation between the parties involved. In addition to the supervisor and technical experts, a wide range of other specialists are involved in the resolution of an indoor air issue.

  • Occupational health services collect information on symptoms, assist in the assessment of the health risk of the facilities and prepare an indoor air questionnaire for the users as required. 
  • School health care services collect information about pupils’ symptoms.
  • The division’s own occupational health and safety organisation contributes, to the process by, for example, providing instructions and consultation to ensure that the working environment does not contain any factors that could endanger the health of the employees. The occupational health and safety organisation also participates in the division’s indoor air team, the review of the survey report and any information events, for example. 
  • As the health protection authority, Environmental Services ensures that flats, schools, day-care centres and similar facilities where people spend a great deal of time do not cause a health hazard within the meaning of the Health Protection Act (Terveydensuojelulaki 763/1994) and the Government Decree on Health Protection (Terveydensuojeluasetus 1280/1994). 
  • The most problematic facilities can be presented to the division’s indoor air team for processing. The indoor air team may decide to arrange a symptom questionnaire for the staff, for example.

Indoor air teams

The City of Helsinki has a city-level indoor air team whose tasks include: 

  • Developing an indoor air issue resolution process
  • Defining shared operating methods and the division of labour
  • Monitoring surveys related to indoor air issues and the development of operating methods, and communicating related information

The city-level indoor air team was established in 2007. The city’s indoor air team is chaired by Sari Hildén, Facility Manager. 

  • Sari Hildén (chair), Facility Manager
    Urban Environment Division
  • Anna Saarinen (deputy chair), Team Manager
    Urban Environment Division/indoor air team
  • Petra Heinola (secretary), Project Coordinator
    Urban Environment Division/indoor air team
  • Päivi Etelämäki, Unit Manager
    Urban Environment Division/account unit 1
  • Teemu Holmén, Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    Urban Environment Division
  • Aila Hyvönen, Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division
  • Taija Hämäläinen, Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    City Executive Office
  • Mauno Kemppi, Head of Facility Services
    Education Division
  • Matti Kuusela, Head of Facility Services
    Culture and Leisure Division
  • Toni Lyyski, Team Manager
    Urban Environment Division/Environmental Services
  • Pasi Lönnberg, Unit Manager
    Urban Environment Division/Facility Assets Unit
  • Jari Mäenmaa, Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    Education Division
  • Katri Olli, Project Director
    Urban Environment Division/Project Unit 1
  • Petri Perkiömäki, Head of Building Services Unit
    Urban Environment Division/Building Control Services
  • Marjaana Saarela, Occupational Health Physician
    Occupational Health Services Helsinki
  • Josefiina Salmén, Occupational Health and Safety Representative
    City Executive Office
  • Tuula Salmivaara-Pesonen, School Health Care Manager
    Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division
  • Markus Terämaa, Occupational Health and Safety Manager
    Culture and Leisure Division
  • Herkko Vehkalahti, Engineer
    Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division

In addition to the city-level indoor air team, the city has division-specific indoor air teams whose task it is to monitor that the processes for solving indoor air issues in individual buildings are progressing as agreed. The division-specific indoor air teams are:

  • Education Division’s indoor air team (chaired by Mauno Kemppi)
  • Culture and Leisure Division’s indoor air team (chaired by Markus Terämaa)

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