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Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the
air quality Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a set of layers of gas ...
within and around
building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a ...

building
s and
structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. ...

structure
s. IAQ is known to affect the health, comfort, and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to
sick building syndrome Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a condition in which people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or become infected with chronic disease from the building in which they work or reside. The outbreaks may or may not be a direct result of ina ...
, reduced productivity, and impaired learning in schools. IAQ can be affected by gases (including
carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide (chemical formula CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. Carbon monoxide consists of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom. It is the simplest molecule of the oxocarbon family. In ...

carbon monoxide
,
radon Radon is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that c ...

radon
,
volatile organic compound Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's abilit ...
s),
particulates Particulates – also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic The microscopic scale (from , ''mikrós'', "small" and σκοπ ...
,
microbial A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...
contaminants (
mold A mold () or mould () is a fungus A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of ...
,
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
), or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions. Source control, filtration, and the use of
ventilation Ventilation may refer to: * Ventilation (physiology), the movement of air between the environment and the lungs via inhalation and exhalation ** Mechanical ventilation, in medicine, using artificial methods to assist breathing *** Ventilator, a mac ...
to dilute contaminants are the primary methods for improving indoor air quality in most buildings. Residential units can further improve indoor air quality by routine cleaning of carpets and area rugs. Determination of IAQ involves the collection of air samples, monitoring human exposure to pollutants, collection of samples on building surfaces, and computer modelling of air flow inside buildings. IAQ is part of indoor environmental quality (IEQ), which includes IAQ as well as other physical and psychological aspects of life indoors (e.g., lighting, visual quality, acoustics, and thermal comfort).
Indoor air pollution Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the air quality Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or ...
is a major health hazard in
developing countries A developing country is a sovereign state with a less developed Industrial sector, industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no ...

developing countries
. A major source of indoor air pollution is the burning of
coal Coal is a combustible , Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , ...

coal
, and
biomass Biomass is plant or animal material used as fuel to produce electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position ...

biomass
including wood, charcoal, dung, or crop residue for heating and cooking. This results in high concentrations of particulate matter and was responsible for roughly 1.5 million to 2 million deaths in 2000. Indoor workplaces are found in many working environments such as offices, sales areas, hospitals, libraries, schools and preschool childcare facilities. At such workplaces, no tasks involving hazardous substances are performed, and they do not include high-noise areas. Nevertheless, employees may feature symptoms belonging to the sick building syndrome such as burning of the eyes, scratchy throat, blocked nose, and headaches. These afflictions often cannot be attributed to a single cause, and require a comprehensive analysis besides the testing of the air quality. Factors such as the workplace design, lighting, noise, thermal environment, ionising radiation and psychological and mental aspects have as well to be allowed for. A report assisted by the
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (German: ''Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung'', ''IFA'') is a German institute located in Sankt Augustin Sankt August ...
can support in the systematic investigation of individual health problems arising at indoor workplaces, and in the identification of practical solutions.


Common pollutants


Secondhand tobacco smoke

Secondhand smoke is tobacco smoke which affects people other than the 'active' smoker. Second-hand tobacco smoke includes both a
gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space ...

gas
eous and a
particulate Particulates – also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic The microscopic scale (from , ''mikrós'', "small" and σκοπ ...
phase, with particular hazards arising from levels of
carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide (chemical formula CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. Carbon monoxide consists of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom. It is the simplest molecule of the oxocarbon family. In ...

carbon monoxide
(as indicated below) and very small particulates (fine particular matter at especially PM2.5 size, and PM10) which get into the
bronchiole The bronchioles or bronchioli are the smaller branches of the bronchial airways in the respiratory tract The respiratory tract is the subdivision of the respiratory system The respiratory system (also respiratory apparatus, ventilatory sys ...

bronchiole
s and alveoles in the lung. The only certain method to improve indoor air quality as regards secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking indoors. Indoor e-cigarette use also increases home
particulate matter upright=1.7, Movie map of distribution of aerosol particles, based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite: * Green areas show aerosol plumes dominated by larger particles. * Red area ...
concentrations.


Indoor combustion

Indoor combustion, such as for cooking or heating, is a major cause of indoor air pollution and causes significant health harms and premature deaths. Hydrocarbon fires cause air pollution. Pollution is caused by both biomass and fossil fuels of various types, but some forms of fuels are more harmful than others. Indoor fire can produce black carbon particles, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and mercury compounds, among other emissions. Around 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary cook stoves. Cooking fuels are coal, wood, animal dung, and crop residues.


Radon

Radon Radon is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that c ...

Radon
is an invisible, radioactive atomic gas that results from the radioactive decay of
radium Radium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

radium
, which may be found in rock formations beneath buildings or in certain building materials themselves. Radon is probably the most pervasive serious hazard for indoor air in the United States and Europe, and is probably responsible for tens of thousands of deaths from lung cancer each year. There are relatively simple test kits for do-it-yourself radon gas testing, but if a home is for sale the testing must be done by a licensed person in some U.S. states. Radon gas enters buildings as a
soil gas Soil gases are the gases found in the air space between soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture o ...
and is a heavy gas and thus will tend to accumulate at the lowest level. Radon may also be introduced into a building through drinking water particularly from bathroom showers. Building materials can be a rare source of radon, but little testing is carried out for stone, rock or tile products brought into building sites; radon accumulation is greatest for well insulated homes. The half life for radon is 3.8 days, indicating that once the source is removed, the hazard will be greatly reduced within a few weeks.
Radon mitigation Radon mitigation is any process used to reduce radon Radon is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance ...
methods include sealing concrete slab floors, basement foundations, water drainage systems, or by increasing ventilation. They are usually cost effective and can greatly reduce or even eliminate the contamination and the associated health risks. Radon is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), a measurement of radioactivity. In the United States, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 pCi/L. The average outdoor level is about 0.4 pCi/L. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend fixing homes with radon levels at or above 4 pCi/L. EPA also recommends that people think about fixing their homes for radon levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L.


Molds and other allergens

These biological chemicals can arise from a host of means, but there are two common classes: (a) moisture induced growth of mold colonies and (b) natural substances released into the air such as animal dander and plant pollen. Mold is always associated with moisture, and its growth can be inhibited by keeping humidity levels below 50%. Moisture buildup inside buildings may arise from water penetrating compromised areas of the building envelope or skin, from plumbing leaks, from
condensation Condensation is the change of the state of matter In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space ...

condensation
due to improper ventilation, or from ground moisture penetrating a building part. Even something as simple as drying clothes indoors on radiators can increase the risk of exposure to (amongst other things)
Aspergillus ''Aspergillus'' () is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), c ...

Aspergillus
– a highly dangerous mould that can be fatal for asthma sufferers and the elderly. In areas where cellulosic materials (paper and wood, including drywall) become moist and fail to dry within 48 hours, mold mildew can propagate and release allergenic spores into the air. In many cases, if materials have failed to dry out several days after the suspected water event, mold growth is suspected within wall cavities even if it is not immediately visible. Through a mold investigation, which may include destructive inspection, one should be able to determine the presence or absence of mold. In a situation where there is visible mold and the indoor air quality may have been compromised, mold remediation may be needed. Mold testing and inspections should be carried out by an independent investigator to avoid any conflict of interest and to insure accurate results. There are some varieties of mold that contain toxic compounds (mycotoxins). However, exposure to hazardous levels of mycotoxin via inhalation is not possible in most cases, as toxins are produced by the fungal body and are not at significant levels in the released spores. The primary hazard of mold growth, as it relates to indoor air quality, comes from the allergenic properties of the spore cell wall. More serious than most allergenic properties is the ability of mold to trigger episodes in persons that already have
asthma Asthma is a long-term Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) was a hedge fund''A financial History of the United States Volume II: 1970–2001'', Jerry W. Markham, Chapter 5: "Bank Consolidation", M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2002 based in Greenwich, ...

asthma
, a serious respiratory disease.


Carbon monoxide

One of the most acutely toxic indoor air contaminants is
carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide (chemical formula CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. Carbon monoxide consists of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom. It is the simplest molecule of the oxocarbon family. In ...

carbon monoxide
(CO), a colourless and odourless gas that is a by-product of incomplete
combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combustion ...
. Common sources of carbon monoxide are tobacco smoke, space heaters using
fossil fuels A fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and ...
, defective central heating furnaces and automobile exhaust. By depriving the brain of oxygen, high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to nausea, unconsciousness and death. According to the
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) is a professional association of industrial hygienists and practitioners of related professions, with headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of its goals is to advance worker pro ...
(ACGIH), the time-weighted average (TWA) limit for carbon monoxide (630–08–0) is 25 ppm.


Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compound Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's abilit ...
s (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers,
correction fluid A correction fluid is an opaque, usually white fluid applied to paper to mask errors in text. Once dried, it can be handwritten or typed upon. It is typically packaged in small bottles, lids attached to brushes (or triangular pieces of foam) that d ...
s and
carbonless copy paper Carbonless copy paper (CCP), non-carbon copy paper, or NCR paper (No Carbon Required, taken from the initials of its creator, National Cash Register) is a type of coated paperCoated paper (also known as enamel paper, gloss paper, and slick paper) i ...
, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. Chlorinated drinking water releases chloroform when hot water is used in the home. Benzene is emitted from fuel stored in attached garages. Overheated cooking oils emit acrolein and formaldehyde. A meta-analysis of 77 surveys of VOCs in homes in the US found the top ten riskiest indoor air VOCs were acrolein, formaldehyde, benzene, hexachlorobutadiene, acetaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, benzyl chloride, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, carbon tetrachloride, acrylonitrile, and vinyl chloride. These compounds exceeded health standards in most homes. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds during usage, and, to some degree, when they are stored. Testing emissions from building materials used indoors has become increasingly common for floor coverings, paints, and many other important indoor building materials and finishes. Indoor materials such as gypsum boards or carpet act as VOC 'sinks', by trapping VOC vapors for extended periods of time, and releasing them by
outgassing Outgassing (sometimes called offgassing, particularly when in reference to indoor air quality Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. IAQ is known to affect the health, comfort, and well-being of ...

outgassing
. This can result in chronic and low-level exposures to VOCs. Several initiatives envisage to reduce indoor air contamination by limiting VOC emissions from products. There are regulations in France and in Germany, and numerous voluntary ecolabels and rating systems containing low VOC emissions criteria such as EMICODE, M1, Blue Angel and Indoor Air Comfort in Europe, as well as California Standard CDPH Section 01350 and several others in the US. These initiatives changed the marketplace where an increasing number of low-emitting products has become available during the last decades. At least 18 Microbial VOCs (MVOCs) have been characterised including
1-octen-3-ol 1-Octen-3-ol, octenol for short and also known as mushroom alcohol, is a chemical that attracts biting insects such as mosquito Mosquitoes are members of a group of almost 3,600 species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biologi ...
,
3-methylfuran
3-methylfuran
, 2-pentanol, 2-hexanone,
2-heptanone
2-heptanone
,
3-octanone
3-octanone
, 3-octanol, 2-octen-1-ol,
1-octene
1-octene
,
2-pentanone 2-Pentanone or methyl propyl ketone (MPK) is a ketone and solvent of minor importance. It is comparable to methyl ethyl ketone, but has a lower solvency and is more expensive. It occurs naturally in ''Nicotiana tabacum'' (Tobacco) and blue cheese ...

2-pentanone
, 2-nonanone,
borneol Borneol is a bicyclic A bicyclic molecule (''bi'' = two, ''cycle'' = ring) is a molecule that features two joined rings Ring most commonly refers either to a hollow circular shape or to a high-pitched sound. It thus may refer to: *Ring (jewelle ...

borneol
,
geosmin Geosmin is an irregular sesquiterpene, produced from the universal sesquiterpene precursor farnesyl pyrophosphate (also known as farnesyl diphosphate), in a two-step -dependent reaction. Geosmin, along with the irregular monoterpene 2-methyliso ...

geosmin
,
1-butanol 1-Butanol (IUPAC: Butan-1-ol) also known as n-Butanol is a primary alcohol A primary alcohol is an alcohol In , alcohol is an that carries at least one (−OH) bound to a atom. The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alc ...

1-butanol
, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanol, and
thujopsene Thujopsene is a natural chemical compound, classified as a sesquiterpene, with the molecular formula C15H24. Thujopsene is found in the essential oil of a variety of conifers, in particular ''Juniperus cedrus'' and ''Thujopsis dolabrata'' in whic ...

thujopsene
. The first of these compounds is called mushroom alcohol. The last four are products of ''
Stachybotrys chartarum ''Stachybotrys chartarum''Other Latin names are ''Stachybotrys atra'', ''Stachybotrys alternans'', and or ''Stilbospora chartarum''. (, ), also known as black mold or toxic black mold, is a variety of microfungus that produces its conidia in sli ...
'', which has been linked with
sick building syndrome Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a condition in which people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or become infected with chronic disease from the building in which they work or reside. The outbreaks may or may not be a direct result of ina ...
.


Legionella

Legionnaires' disease Legionnaires' disease is a form of atypical pneumonia Atypical pneumonia, also known as walking pneumonia, is any type of pneumonia Pneumonia is an Inflammation, inflammatory condition of the lung primarily affecting the small air sacs kno ...
is caused by a waterborne bacterium ''
Legionella ''Legionella'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to ...
'' that grows best in slow-moving or still, warm water. The primary route of exposure is through the creation of an aerosol effect, most commonly from evaporative cooling towers or showerheads. A common source of Legionella in commercial buildings is from poorly placed or maintained evaporative cooling towers, which often release water in an aerosol which may enter nearby ventilation intakes. Outbreaks in medical facilities and nursing homes, where patients are immuno-suppressed and immuno-weak, are the most commonly reported cases of Legionellosis. More than one case has involved outdoor fountains in public attractions. The presence of Legionella in commercial building water supplies is highly under-reported, as healthy people require heavy exposure to acquire infection. Legionella testing typically involves collecting water samples and surface swabs from evaporative cooling basins, shower heads, faucets/taps, and other locations where warm water collects. The samples are then cultured and colony forming units (cfu) of Legionella are quantified as cfu/Liter. Legionella is a parasite of protozoans such as
amoeba An amoeba (; less commonly spelt ameba or amœba; plural ''am(o)ebas'' or ''am(o)ebae'' ), often called an amoeboid, is a type of cell Cell most often refers to: * Cell (biology), the functional basic unit of life Cell may also refer to: Cl ...

amoeba
, and thus requires conditions suitable for both organisms. The bacterium forms a
biofilm A biofilm comprises any Syntrophy, syntrophic consortium of microorganisms in which cell (biology), cells cell adhesion, stick to each other and often also to a surface. These adherent cells become embedded within a slimy extracellular matrix th ...

biofilm
which is resistant to chemical and antimicrobial treatments, including chlorine. Remediation for Legionella outbreaks in commercial buildings vary, but often include very hot water flushes (160 °F; 70 °C), sterilisation of standing water in evaporative cooling basins, replacement of shower heads, and in some cases flushes of heavy metal salts. Preventive measures include adjusting normal hot water levels to allow for 120 °F (50 °C) at the tap, evaluating facility design layout, removing faucet aerators, and periodic testing in suspect areas.


Other bacteria

There are many
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
of health significance found in indoor air and on indoor surfaces. The role of microbes in the indoor environment is increasingly studied using modern gene-based analysis of environmental samples. Currently efforts are under way to link microbial ecologists and indoor air scientists to forge new methods for analysis and to better interpret the results. "There are approximately ten times as many bacterial cells in the human flora as there are human cells in the body, with large numbers of bacteria on the skin and as gut flora." A large fraction of the bacteria found in indoor air and dust are shed from humans. Among the most important bacteria known to occur in indoor air are
Mycobacterium tuberculosis ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (M. tb) is a species of pathogenic bacteria Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of biological cell The cell (from Latin ''cella'', mea ...

Mycobacterium tuberculosis
,
Staphylococcus aureus ''Staphylococcus aureus'' is a Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-positive coccus, round-shaped bacterium, a member of the Firmicutes, and is a usual member of the microbiota of the body, frequently found in the Respiratory tract, upper respiratory ...
,
Streptococcus pneumoniae ''Streptococcus'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including ...

Streptococcus pneumoniae
.


Asbestos fibers

Many common building materials used before 1975 contain
asbestos Asbestos (pronounced: or ) is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral Silicate minerals are rock-forming mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fair ...
, such as some floor tiles, ceiling tiles, shingles, fireproofing, heating systems, pipe wrap, taping muds, mastics, and other insulation materials. Normally, significant releases of asbestos fiber do not occur unless the building materials are disturbed, such as by cutting, sanding, drilling, or building remodelling. Removal of asbestos-containing materials is not always optimal because the fibers can be spread into the air during the removal process. A management program for intact asbestos-containing materials is often recommended instead. When asbestos-containing material is damaged or disintegrates, microscopic fibers are dispersed into the air. Inhalation of asbestos fibers over long exposure times is associated with increased incidence of
lung cancer Lung cancer, also known as lung carcinoma, since about 98–99% of all lung cancers are carcinomas, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissue (biology), tissues of the lung. Lung carcinomas derive from trans ...

lung cancer
, in particular the specific form
mesothelioma Mesothelioma is a type of cancer Cancer is a group of diseases A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate ex ...
. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is significantly greater to smokers, however there is no confirmed connection to damage caused by asbestosis . The symptoms of the disease do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos Asbestos (pronounced: or ) is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral Silicate minerals are rock-forming mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fair ...
is found in older homes and buildings, but occurs most commonly in schools, hospitals and industrial settings. Although all asbestos is hazardous, products that are friable, e.g. sprayed coatings and insulation, pose a significantly higher hazard as they are more likely to release fibers to the air. The US Federal Government and some states have set standards for acceptable levels of asbestos fibers in indoor air. There are particularly stringent regulations applicable to schools.


Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

Carbon dioxide
(CO2) is a relatively easy to measure surrogate for indoor pollutants emitted by humans, and correlates with human metabolic activity. Carbon dioxide at levels that are unusually high indoors may cause occupants to grow drowsy, to get headaches, or to function at lower activity levels. Outdoor CO2 levels are usually 350–450 ppm whereas the maximum indoor CO2 level considered acceptable is 1000 ppm. Humans are the main indoor source of carbon dioxide in most buildings. Indoor CO2 levels are an indicator of the adequacy of outdoor air ventilation relative to indoor occupant density and metabolic activity. To eliminate most complaints, the total indoor CO2 level should be reduced to a difference of less than 600 ppm above outdoor levels. The USA National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers that indoor air concentrations of carbon dioxide that exceed 1,000 ppm are a marker suggesting inadequate ventilation. The UK standards for schools say that carbon dioxide in all teaching and learning spaces, when measured at seated head height and averaged over the whole day should not exceed 1,500 ppm. The whole day refers to normal school hours (i.e. 9:00am to 3:30pm) and includes unoccupied periods such as lunch breaks. In Hong Kong, the EPD established indoor air quality objectives for office buildings and public places in which a carbon dioxide level below 1,000 ppm is considered to be good. European standards limit carbon dioxide to 3,500 ppm. OSHA limits carbon dioxide concentration in the workplace to 5,000 ppm for prolonged periods, and 35,000 ppm for 15 minutes. These higher limits are concerned with avoiding loss of consciousness (fainting), and do not address impaired cognitive performance and energy, which begin to occur at lower concentrations of carbon dioxide. Given the well established roles of oxygen sensing pathways in cancer and the acidosis independent role of carbon dioxide in modulating immune and inflammation linking pathways, it has been suggested that the effects of long-term indoor inspired elevated carbon dioxide levels on the modulation of carcinogenesis be investigated. Carbon dioxide concentrations increase as a result of human occupancy, but lag in time behind cumulative occupancy and intake of fresh air. The lower the air exchange rate, the slower the buildup of carbon dioxide to quasi "steady state" concentrations on which the NIOSH and UK guidance are based. Therefore, measurements of carbon dioxide for purposes of assessing the adequacy of ventilation need to be made after an extended period of steady occupancy and ventilation – in schools at least 2 hours, and in offices at least 3 hours – for concentrations to be a reasonable indicator of ventilation adequacy. Portable instruments used to measure carbon dioxide should be calibrated frequently, and outdoor measurements used for calculations should be made close in time to indoor measurements. Corrections for temperature effects on measurements made outdoors may also be necessary. Carbon dioxide concentrations in closed or confined rooms can increase to 1,000 ppm within 45 minutes of enclosure. For example, in a sized office, atmospheric carbon dioxide increased from 500 ppm to over 1,000 ppm within 45 minutes of ventilation cessation and closure of windows and doors


Ozone

Ozone Ozone (), or trioxygen, is an inorganic molecule A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a cha ...

Ozone
is produced by
ultraviolet light Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelength In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural s ...
from the Sun hitting the Earth's atmosphere (especially in the ),
lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan ...

lightning
, certain electric devices (such as air ionizers), and as a by-product of other types of pollution. Ozone exists in greater concentrations at altitudes commonly flown by passenger jets. Reactions between ozone and onboard substances, including skin oils and cosmetics, can produce toxic chemicals as by-products. Ozone itself is also irritating to lung tissue and harmful to human health. Larger jets have ozone filters to reduce the cabin concentration to safer and more comfortable levels. Outdoor air used for ventilation may have sufficient ozone to react with common indoor pollutants as well as skin oils and other common indoor air chemicals or surfaces. Particular concern is warranted when using "green" cleaning products based on citrus or terpene extracts, because these chemicals react very quickly with ozone to form toxic and irritating chemicals as well as
fine Fine may refer to: Characters * Sylvia Fine (''The Nanny''), Fran's mother on ''The Nanny'' * Fine/Officer Fine, character in Tales from the Crypt, played by Vincent Spano Vincent M. Spano (born October 18, 1962) is an American film, stage and ...
and
ultrafine particlesUltrafine particles (UFPs) are particulate matter of nanoscale size (less than 0.1 μm or 100 nm in diameter). Regulations do not exist for this size class of ambient air pollution particles, which are far smaller than the regulated PM10 and ...
. Ventilation with outdoor air containing elevated ozone concentrations may complicate remediation attempts. Ozone is on the list of six criteria air pollutant list. The Clean Air Act of 1990 required the
United States Environmental Protection Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. President Richard Nixon pro ...
to set
National Ambient Air Quality Standards The U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS, pronounced ) are limits on atmospheric concentration of six pollutants A pollutant is a substance or energy introduced into the environment that has undesired effects, or adversely affects t ...
(NAAQS) for six common indoor air pollutants harmful to human health. There are also multiple other organizations that have put forth air standards such as
Occupational Safety and Health Administration The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ) is a large regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government, re ...
(OSHA),
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, ) is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury Injury, also known as physical ...
(NIOSH), and the
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the co-ordinating machinery of the Unit ...
(WHO). The OSHA standard for Ozone concentration within a space is 0.1 ppm. While the NAAQS and the EPA standard for ozone concentration is limited to 0.07 ppm. The type of ozone being regulated is ground-level ozone that is within the breathing range of most building occupants


Particulates

Atmospheric particulate matter, also known as
particulates Particulates – also known as atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic The microscopic scale (from , ''mikrós'', "small" and σκοπ ...
, can be found indoors and can affect the health of occupants. Authorities have established standards for the maximum concentration of particulates to ensure indoor air quality.


Prompt cognitive deficits

In 2015, experimental studies reported the detection of significant episodic (situational) cognitive impairment from impurities in the air breathed by test subjects who were not informed about changes in the air quality. Researchers at the Harvard University and SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University measured the cognitive performance of 24 participants in three different controlled laboratory atmospheres that simulated those found in "conventional" and "green" buildings, as well as green buildings with enhanced ventilation. Performance was evaluated objectively using the widely used Strategic Management Simulation software simulation tool, which is a well-validated assessment test for executive decision-making in an unconstrained situation allowing initiative and improvisation. Significant deficits were observed in the performance scores achieved in increasing concentrations of either VOCs or
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

carbon dioxide
, while keeping other factors constant. The highest impurity levels reached are not uncommon in some classroom or office environments.


Effect of indoor plants

Houseplant A houseplant is a plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, th ...

Houseplant
s together with the medium in which they are grown can reduce components of indoor air pollution, particularly
volatile organic compound Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's abilit ...
s (VOC) such as
benzene Benzene is an organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organ ...

benzene
,
toluene Toluene (), also known as toluol (), is a substituted aromatic hydrocarbon Aromatic compounds are those chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular enti ...

toluene
, and
xylene Xylene (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...
. Plants remove CO2 and release oxygen and water, although the quantitative impact for house plants is small. Most of the effect is attributed to the growing medium alone, but even this effect has finite limits associated with the type and quantity of medium and the flow of air through the medium. The effect of house plants on VOC concentrations was investigated in one study, done in a static chamber, by NASA for possible use in space colonies. The results showed that the removal of the challenge chemicals was roughly equivalent to that provided by the ventilation that occurred in a very energy efficient dwelling with a very low ventilation rate, an air exchange rate of about 1/10 per hour. Therefore, air leakage in most homes, and in non-residential buildings too, will generally remove the chemicals faster than the researchers reported for the plants tested by NASA. The most effective household plants reportedly included
aloe vera#REDIRECT Aloe vera
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aloe vera
,
English ivy ''Hedera helix'', the common ivy, English ivy, European ivy, or just ivy, is a species of flowering plant of the Hedera, ivy genus in the family (biology), family Araliaceae, native plant, native to most of Europe and western Asia. A rampant, cli ...

English ivy
, and Boston fern for removing chemicals and biological compounds. Plants also appear to reduce airborne microbes and
mold A mold () or mould () is a fungus A fungus (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of ...

mold
s, and to increase
humidity Humidity is the concentration of water vapor, water vapour present in the air. Water vapor, the gaseous state of water, is generally invisible to the human eye. Humidity indicates the likelihood for precipitation (meteorology), precipitation, d ...
. However, the increased humidity can itself lead to increased levels of mold and even VOCs. When carbon dioxide concentrations are elevated indoors relative to outdoor concentrations, it is only an indicator that ventilation is inadequate to remove metabolic products associated with human occupancy. Plants require carbon dioxide to grow and release oxygen when they consume carbon dioxide. A study published in the journal ''Environmental Science & Technology'' considered uptake rates of
ketones In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence i ...

ketones
and
aldehydes Chemically, an aldehyde is a compound containing a functional group In organic chemistry, a functional group is a substituent or moiety (chemistry), moiety in a molecule that causes the molecule's characteristic chemical reactions. The same fu ...
by the
peace lily
peace lily
(''Spathiphyllum clevelandii'') and golden pothos (''Epipremnum aureum'') Akira Tani and C. Nicholas Hewitt found "Longer-term fumigation results revealed that the total uptake amounts were 30–100 times as much as the amounts dissolved in the leaf, suggesting that volatile organic carbons are metabolized in the leaf and/or translocated through the Petiole (botany), petiole." It is worth noting the researchers sealed the plants in Teflon bags. "No VOC loss was detected from the bag when the plants were absent. However, when the plants were in the bag, the levels of aldehydes and ketones both decreased slowly but continuously, indicating removal by the plants." Studies done in sealed bags do not faithfully reproduce the conditions in the indoor environments of interest. Dynamic conditions with outdoor air ventilation and the processes related to the surfaces of the building itself and its contents as well as the occupants need to be studied. While results do indicate house plants may be effective at removing some VOCs from air supplies, a review of studies between 1989 and 2006 on the performance of houseplants as air cleaners, presented at the Healthy Buildings 2009 conference in Syracuse, New York, concluded "...indoor plants have little, if any, benefit for removing indoor air of VOC in residential and commercial buildings." This conclusion was based on a trial involving an unknown quantity of indoor plants kept in an uncontrolled ventilated air environment of an arbitrary office building in Arlington, Virginia. Since extremely high humidity is associated with increased mold growth, allergic responses, and respiratory responses, the presence of additional moisture from houseplants may not be desirable in all indoor settings if watering is done inappropriately.


HVAC design

Environmentally sustainable design concepts also include aspects related to the commercial and residential heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry. Among several considerations, one of the topics attended to is the issue of indoor air quality throughout the design and construction stages of a building's life. One technique to reduce energy consumption while maintaining adequate air quality, is demand-controlled ventilation. Instead of setting throughput at a fixed air replacement rate, carbon dioxide sensors are used to control the rate dynamically, based on the emissions of actual building occupants. For the past several years, there have been many debates among indoor air quality specialists about the proper definition of indoor air quality and specifically what constitutes "acceptable" indoor air quality. One way of quantitatively ensuring the health of indoor air is by the frequency of effective turnover of interior air by replacement with outside air. In the UK, for example, classrooms are required to have 2.5 outdoor air changes per hour. In halls, gym, dining, and physiotherapy spaces, the Ventilation (architecture), ventilation should be sufficient to limit
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pare ...

carbon dioxide
to 1,500 ppm. In the US, and according to ASHRAE Standards, ventilation in classrooms is based on the amount of outdoor air per occupant plus the amount of outdoor air per unit of floor area, not air changes per hour. Since carbon dioxide indoors comes from occupants and outdoor air, the adequacy of ventilation per occupant is indicated by the concentration indoors minus the concentration outdoors. The value of 615 ppm above the outdoor concentration indicates approximately 15 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per adult occupant doing sedentary office work where outdoor air contains 385 ppm, the current global average atmospheric CO2 concentration. In classrooms, the requirements in the ASHRAE standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, would typically result in about 3 air changes per hour, depending on the occupant density. Of course the occupants are not the only source of pollutants, so outdoor air ventilation may need to be higher when unusual or strong sources of pollution exist indoors. When outdoor air is polluted, then bringing in more outdoor air can actually worsen the overall quality of the indoor air and exacerbate some occupant symptoms related to outdoor air pollution. Generally, outdoor country air is better than indoor city air. Exhaust gas leakages can occur from furnace metal exhaust pipes that lead to the chimney when there are leaks in the pipe and the pipe gas flow area diameter has been reduced. The use of air filters can trap some of the air pollutants. The Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy section suggests that "[Air] Filtration should have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 as determined by ASHRAE 52.2-1999." Air filters are used to reduce the amount of dust that reaches the wet coils. Dust can serve as food to grow molds on the wet coils and ducts and can reduce the efficiency of the coils. Moisture management and humidity control requires operating HVAC systems as designed. Moisture management and humidity control may conflict with efforts to try to optimize the operation to conserve energy. For example, moisture management and humidity control requires systems to be set to supply make-up air at lower temperatures (design levels), instead of the higher temperatures sometimes used to conserve energy in cooling-dominated climate conditions. However, for most of the US and many parts of Europe and Japan, during the majority of hours of the year, outdoor air temperatures are cool enough that the air does not need further cooling to provide thermal comfort indoors. However, high humidity outdoors creates the need for careful attention to humidity levels indoors. High humidities give rise to mold growth and moisture indoors is associated with a higher prevalence of occupant respiratory problems. The "dew point temperature" is an absolute measure of the moisture in air. Some facilities are being designed with the design dew points in the lower 50s °F, and some in the upper and lower 40s °F. Some facilities are being designed using desiccant wheels with gas-fired heaters to dry out the wheel enough to get the required dew points. On those systems, after the moisture is removed from the make-up air, a cooling coil is used to lower the temperature to the desired level. Commercial buildings, and sometimes residential, are often kept under slightly positive air pressure relative to the outdoors to reduce Infiltration (HVAC), infiltration. Limiting infiltration helps with moisture management and humidity control. Dilution of indoor pollutants with outdoor air is effective to the extent that outdoor air is free of harmful pollutants. Ozone in outdoor air occurs indoors at reduced concentrations because ozone is highly reactive with many chemicals found indoors. The products of the reactions between ozone and many common indoor pollutants include organic compounds that may be more odorous, irritating, or toxic than those from which they are formed. These products of ozone chemistry include formaldehyde, higher molecular weight aldehydes, acidic aerosols, and fine and ultrafine particles, among others. The higher the outdoor ventilation rate, the higher the indoor ozone concentration and the more likely the reactions will occur, but even at low levels, the reactions will take place. This suggests that ozone should be removed from ventilation air, especially in areas where outdoor ozone levels are frequently high. Recent research has shown that mortality and morbidity increase in the general population during periods of higher outdoor ozone and that the threshold for this effect is around 20 parts per billion (ppb).


Building ecology

It is common to assume that buildings are simply inanimate physical entities, relatively stable over time. This implies that there is little interaction between the triad of the building, what is in it (occupants and contents), and what is around it (the larger environment). We commonly see the overwhelming majority of the mass of material in a building as relatively unchanged physical material over time. In fact, the true nature of buildings can be viewed as the result of a complex set of dynamic interactions among their physical, chemical, and biological dimensions. Buildings can be described and understood as complex systems. Research applying the approaches ecologists use to the understanding of ecosystems can help increase our understanding. “Building ecology“ is proposed as the application of those approaches to the built environment considering the dynamic system of buildings, their occupants, and the larger environment. Buildings constantly evolve as a result of the changes in the environment around them as well as the occupants, materials, and activities within them. The various surfaces and the air inside a building are constantly interacting, and this interaction results in changes in each. For example, we may see a window as changing slightly over time as it becomes dirty, then is cleaning, cleaned, accumulates dirt again, is cleaned again, and so on through its life. In fact, the “dirt” we see may be evolving as a result of the interactions among the moisture, chemicals, and biological materials found there. Buildings are designed or intended to respond actively to some of these changes in and around them with HVAC, heating, cooling, ventilating, air cleaning or illuminating systems. We clean, sanitize, and maintain surfaces to enhance their appearance, performance, or longevity. In other cases, such changes alter buildings in ways that may be important to their own integrity or their impact on building occupants through the evolution of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that define them at any time. We may find it useful to combine the tools of the physical sciences with those of the biological sciences and, especially, some of the approaches used for ecosystems, in order to gain an enhanced understanding of the environments in which we spend the majority of our time, our buildings.


Institutional programs

The topic of IAQ has become popular due to the greater awareness of health problems caused by mold and triggers to
asthma Asthma is a long-term Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) was a hedge fund''A financial History of the United States Volume II: 1970–2001'', Jerry W. Markham, Chapter 5: "Bank Consolidation", M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2002 based in Greenwich, ...

asthma
and allergies. In the US, awareness has also been increased by the involvement of the
United States Environmental Protection Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. President Richard Nixon pro ...
(EPA), which has developed an "IAQ Tools for Schools" program to help improve the indoor environmental conditions in educational institutions (see external link below). The
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, ) is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury Injury, also known as physical ...
conducts Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) in workplaces at the request of employees, authorized representative of employees, or employers, to determine whether any substance normally found in the place of employment has potentially toxic effects, including indoor air quality. A variety of scientists work in the field of indoor air quality, including chemists, physicists, mechanical engineers, biologists, bacteriologists, and computer scientists. Some of these professionals are certified by organisations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Indoor Air Quality Council and the Indoor Environmental Air Quality Council. Of note, a new European scientific network is now addressing indoor air pollution under COST support
CA17136
. Their findings are routinely updated on thei
website
On the international level, the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ), formed in 1991, organises two major conferences, the Indoor Air and the Healthy Buildings series. ISIAQ's journal ''Indoor Air'' is published 6 times a year and contains peer-reviewed scientific papers with an emphasis on interdisciplinary studies including exposure measurements, modeling, and health outcomes.


See also

* Environmental management * Indoor air pollution in developing nations * Indoor bioaerosol * Microbiomes of the built environment * Olfactory fatigue * Phase I environmental site assessment


References


Citations


Sources

; Monographs * * * * * * * ; Articles, radio segments, web pages * Apte, MG, et al.
Outdoor ozone and building related symptoms in the BASE study
''Indoor Air,'' 2008 Apr;18(2):156–70, cited by: National Center for Biotechnology Information, nih.gov.
Bad In-Flight Air Exacerbated by Passengers
Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, September 21, 2007.
Indoor Air Pollution index page
United States Environmental Protection Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. President Richard Nixon pro ...
. *


External links


US Environmental Protection Agency info on IAQ
{{DEFAULTSORT:Indoor Air Quality Air pollution Building biology Industrial hygiene Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning Occupational safety and health Pollution