Chapter 24: Indoor Air Pollution

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
• Secondhand smoke
– Most hazardous common indoor air pollutant

• Legionella pneumophila
– Bacterium that causes a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease when inhaled.

• Some molds (fungal growths) in buildings release toxic spores.
– Cause chronic inflammation and scarring of lungs

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
• Radon gas
– seeps up naturally from soils and rocks below buildings – Thought to be the second most common cause of lung cancer.

• Pesticides
– Deliberately or inadvertently applied in buildings to control pest – Are toxic to people as well

. and skin of people who are sensitive to them. – Emit formaldehyde as a gas into buildings. used in many materials found in homes and offices. nose. • Dust mites and pollen – irritate the respiratory system. eyes.Sources of Indoor Air Pollution • Some varieties of asbestos – Known to cause a particular type of lung cancer • Formaldehyde – A VOC.


Dust mite .

Pollen grains .



Sources of Indoor Air Pollution • Common indoor air pollutants are often highly concentrated compared with outdoor levels. • Why? – There are so many potential indoor sources of pollutants. . – The effectiveness of the steps we have taken to conserve energy in buildings has led to the trapping of pollutants inside.


• Done correctly it will – Provide thermal comfort for people inhabiting the building. and AirConditioning Systems • Systems are designed to provide a comfortable indoor environment for people. • Design depends on a number of variables – Including the activity of people in the building. – Provide the necessary ventilation (utilizing outdoor air) – Remove common air pollutants via exhaust fans and filters .Heating. Ventilation. and air quality. air temperature and humidity.

and Driving Forces • Many air pollutants originate within buildings and may be concentrated there because of lack of proper ventilation. Processes. • Other air pollutants may enter by infiltration.Pathways. – Through cracks and other openings in the foundations and walls – Or by way of ventilation systems. .

Pathways. . – Areas of high pressure may develop on the windward side of a building. and Driving Forces • Both natural and human processes create differential pressures that move air and contaminants from one area to another. – Pressure is lower on the leeward. side. Processes. or protected. drawing air in.

– Secondhand smoke. Processes.Pathways. and Driving Forces • A chimney effect (or stack effect) – Occurs when there is a temperature differential between the indoor and outdoor environments. – Warmer air rises in the building to the upper levels. . it is replaced in the lower portion of the building by outdoor air. may also be drawn into a building by the chimney effect.

the symptoms reported result from factors other than air pollution. – The symptoms reported by people in a particular environment vary. – In some cases.Building Occupants • People living or working in particular indoor environments react to pollutants in different ways: – Some groups of people are particularly susceptible to indoor air pollution problems. .

when exposed to chemicals. – Individuals who have suppressed immune systems. .Particularly Susceptible People • A person’s susceptibility to a particular air pollutant also depends on genetic factors. lifestyle. – People suffering from chronic lung or respiratory diseases. – Sometimes a matter in concentration rather than susceptibility. develop multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). – Older people and children are generally more sensitive. – Some people. and age.

Symptoms of Indoor Air Pollution • A great variety of symptoms can result from exposure to indoor air pollutants. chronic fatigue. including asthma. headaches. asbestos. – Other pollutants cause dizziness or nausea. and throat. – Radon. – More serious problems include loss of balance and memory. – Nosebleeds. nose. . difficulty in speaking. and chemicals such as benzene. and allergic reactions. and irritation of the skin or eyes. may have long-term chronic health effects (cancer). chronic sinus infections.


– Buildings w/ sick building syndrome (SBS) • Symptoms people report cannot be traced to any one known cause. .Sick Buildings • There are two types of sick buildings: – Buildings w/ identifiable problems • Occurrences of toxic molds or bacteria known to cause disease. • Diseases are known as building-related illnesses (BRI).

– Environmental stress from another source is responsible. – Employment-related stress may be leading to the symptoms reported. A number of things may be happening: – The complaints result from the combined effects of a number of contaminants present in the building.Sick Buildings • When the cause is not detected. – Pollutants or toxins may be present but not identified. .

or pipes.Environmental Tobacco Smoke • Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) – Secondhand smoke – Comes from two sources: • smoke exhaled by smokers • smoke emitted from burning tobacco in cigarettes. . cigars. – People who are exposed to ETS are referred to as passive smokers.

many of which are irritants. – In the US. suffer more illnesses.Environmental Tobacco Smoke • It is hazardous for the following reasons: – Tobacco smoke contains several thousand chemicals.000 deaths from lung cancer and 40. .000 deaths from heart disease a year are thought to be associated with ETS. and lose more work time than those not exposed to ETS. – Studies of nonsmoking workers exposed to ETS found that they have reduced airway functions. about 3.

and tasteless.8 days. is the product of radioactive decay of radium-226. odorless.Radon Gas • Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is colorless. – Radon decays with emission of an alpha particle to polonium-218. which has a half-life of ~ 3 minutes . – Radioactive decay chain from radiogenic uranium to stable lead – Radon-222 has a half-life of 3.



– Some regions in the United States contain bedrock with an above-average natural concentration of uranium. .Geology and Radon Gas • The concentration of radon gas that reaches the surface of the Earth and thus can enter our dwellings is – Related to the concentration of radon in the rocks and soil.

it is pumped into wells and then into homes. are used in construction. Dissolved in groundwater. Radon-contaminated materials. It migrates up from soil and rock into basements and lower floors. – 3. – 2. such as building blocks. .How Does Radon Gas Enter Building? • Radon gas enters homes and other buildings in three main ways: – 1.


Radon Resistant Techniques for Homes and Other Building • Protection is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. . • Techniques are variable depending on the type of foundation a particular home has. – The basic strategy is to prevent radon from entering – And to safely ensure that radon is removed from the home site.

. Plastic Sheeting: – Help prevent the soil gas from entering the home. • B. Sealing and Caulking: – Openings in the concrete foundation floor are sealed to reduce soil gas entry into the home.• A. • C. Gas Permeable Layer: – Allow the soil gas to move freely underneath the house.

Vent Pipe: – A PVC pipe runs from the gas-permeable layer through the house to the roof to safely vent radon above the house. • E.• D. Junction Box: – An electrical junction box is installed if an electric venting fan is needed. .

– Providing for a good indoor environmental quality is a significant part. . and managing moisture content to remove the threat of moisture-related problems such as mold.Indoor Air Pollution and Green Buildings • Building green. • Ensuring that fresh air is supplied and circulated. constructing. and maintaining buildings that minimize indoor air pollutants. • Designing. – The processes involve using building designs that result in less pollution and better use of resources.

. • A good starting point would be passing environmental legislation requiring minimum indoor air quality standards.Control of Indoor Air Pollution • There are strong financial incentives to provide workers w/ a clean air environment. – Including increase in the inflow of fresh air through ventilation.


.Control of Indoor Air Pollution • One of the principal means for controlling quality is by dilution – Fresh outdoor air mixed via a ventilating airconditioning system and windows that can be opened. • Various types of air-cleaning systems reduce potential pollutants – Such as particles. and AC system or as stand-alone appliances. vapors. – Can be installed as part of the heating. ventilation. and gases.

.Control of Indoor Air Pollution • Education also plays an important role – May involve deciding not to install unvented or poorly vented appliances. and strategies to avoid potentially hazardous conditions in the home and workplace. – Education provides people with the information necessary to make decisions concerning exposure. – Educated people are more aware of their legal rights with respect to product liability and safety.

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