Environment & Sustainability
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Although air pollution control typically has focused on outdoor air, indoor air quality may actually be a more serious threat. Most people spend the majority of the their time indoors, and the quality of air indoors usually presents a greater risk than outdoor air. This may be true in homes, schools and office buildings in addition to industrial operations.
Key indoor air pollutants include radon gas (odorless and colorless, and entering buildings from ground rich in materials such as granite, shale, phosphate and pitchblende), formaldehyde (from household uses of particleboard, plywood, floor coverings and textiles) combustion products such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates (from wood burning stoves, fireplaces, and exhaust entering homes from garages), chemicals (from numerous household products such as cleaners, paints, pesticides and disinfectants) and biological pollutants (molds have recently been identified as a major problem in many buildings, but other sources of contamination – such as dust mites – have long been of concern).
In Air Quality Management (ENVH 304) we consider both indoor and outdoor air quality. Our laboratory courses give students experience in making a variety of measurements, and interpreting their significance. In Industrial Ventilation (ENVH 308) our students get tremendous experience working with the design and control of ventilation systems for workplace and general air quality management.
Listed below are a few resources that contain additional information about indoor air quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a web site on indoor air quality. This site contains a lot of useful information on indoor air quality and links to other useful sites. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/contactus.html. Another USEPA web site provides an introduction to indoor air quality issues including identification of sources and significance.
The World Health Organization provides guidelines for air pollution. Chapter 4 of these guidelines consider indoor air pollution.
The National Safety Council maintains a web site providing information on the major indoor air pollution contaminants.