A breath of fresh air for sick buildings

When Peter Roy walks into an office, workshop or workspace of any description, he transforms into the “Sherlock Holmes” of Indoor Air Quality, picking up on issues and subtle clues that most of us would miss.

As a certified Occupational Hygienist both in America and Australia, one area of his expertise is Indoor Air Quality and how it relates to building and workplace environments.

Peter and his colleague Environmental Scientist Kevin White constitute Mycologia’s dedicated Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Team.

“Many substances that compromise a person’s comfort health and wellbeing are airborne, including, but not limited to mould and mould by-products,” Peter said.

“In addition, poor ventilation, airborne chemicals and temperature and humidity often play a role in IAQ problems.

“IAQ problems can stem from a range of issues, and these often occur in combination.

“It might be poor building ventilation and inadequate fresh air, water or excessive humidity leading to indoor mould growth, airborne chemical pollutants drawn into the building ventilation system or chemicals from indoor sources, or sometimes all of the above.”

While working in Boston, USA during the mid-nineties, Peter was awarded the nickname “The Building Doctor”, by the consultancy that employed him at the time.

“Myself and my IAQ Team were collectively and individually recognised for our success in dealing with a number of high profile IAQ cases,” he said.

A former US Naval Officer with a degree in Biological Sciences, and a Masters of Public Health in Occupational Hygiene, as well as 30 years of extensive international experience under his belt, Peter’s career has included consulting, corporate health & safety management, university lecturing, and expert witness testimony.

Peter has also amassed more than 55 professional papers and presentations, and has testified before national regulatory committees (USA) and Parliamentary Select Committees (NZ) and in depositions and court cases.

Peter said his role at Mycologia had allowed him to work with “big-hearted people” who were also recognised professionals and leaders in their fields.

“Mycologia is already seen as the leader in mould-related indoor air quality issues, and the IAQ Team complements and broadens this established expertise,” Peter said.

Peter and his colleagues are called upon to investigate problems at a wide range of workplaces, including minesites and offshore facilities, universities, industrial estates and commercial business premises. 

In the majority of cases, Mycologia’s involvement often begins when the client’s problem has already taken a firm hold and is a challenge to identify, assess and remediate.

“The work is multidisciplinary and sometimes frantic, given the urgency of client needs,” he said.

“We don’t generally see routine problems, so it’s often challenging, but remains interesting and rewarding work.

“If we’re providing expert witness testimony, for example, we have been able to provide the advice that makes it clear which side of the case the evidence supports, and as a result, cases are often settled out of court.”

Peter said his career has evolved from his interest in science and human health, rather than from a childhood dream of being an Occupational Hygienist. 

“Most people don’t know what Occupational Hygiene is, so it’s not something that most people aspire to from an early age,” he said.

“When I was 12 years old I wanted to be a jet pilot, but was always good at science and later studied marine zoology, which progressed into environmental science, then environmental health, and finally I made the segue into Occupational Hygiene, although I sometimes still characterise myself as an ‘environmental scientist of the workplace’.”