Special Issue "Indoor Air Quality: From Sampling to Risk Assessment in the Light of New Legislations"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gaetano Settimo
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Environment and Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, I-00161 Rome, Italy
Interests: atmospheric chemistry; indoor air; sampling; risk assessment; guidelines; regulations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is an important issue rising during these last two decades. First, the studies were aimed to avalutate the risk in the industrial areas but now the attention is focused on the IAQ evaluation in residential and non residential buildings (e.g., house, schools, public offices, etc.). Sensitive sub-population, i.e. elderlies, children, pregnant women, may be affected by diseases caused by exposire to old/new indoor pollutants. Particular attention should be given to new compounds because in many cases their health effects are still unknown. Starting from these considerations some new regulations/guidelines have been set up since few years: such regulations are different worldwide as well as the compounds regulated.

This Special Issue would like to deep the Indoor Air Quality evaluation in the light of the new legislations worldwide. Contributions related to new instruments for studying airborne and gaseous pollutants, new sampling and analysis methodologies, are wellcome as well as the modeling of the pollutant behavior in indoor and in buildings or the study of the (toxicological and not) effects  of new pollutants on the biological systems are examples of topics of interest in this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Pasquale Avino
Dr. Gaetano Settimo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • indoor air quality
  • sampling
  • determination
  • modeling
  • residential, non-residential and industrial
  • human health
  • biological systems
  • risk assessment
  • guidelines
  • regulations

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustainable Neighborhoods in Europe: Mitigating 12 Environmental Impacts by Successively Applying 8 Scenarios
Atmosphere 2020, 11(6), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11060603 - 08 Jun 2020
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to determine the most impactful and important source of environmental change at the neighborhood level. The study of multiple scenarios allows us to determine the influence of several parameters on the results of the life cycle analysis [...] Read more.
The purpose of this research is to determine the most impactful and important source of environmental change at the neighborhood level. The study of multiple scenarios allows us to determine the influence of several parameters on the results of the life cycle analysis of the neighborhood. We are looking at quantifying the impact of orientation, storm water management, density, mobility and the use of renewable energies on the environmental balance sheet of a neighborhood, based on eleven environmental indicators. An eco-neighborhood, located in Belgium, has been selected as the modeling site. The results show that the management of mobility is the parameter that can reduce the impact the most, in terms of greenhouse effect, odor, damage to biodiversity and health. With the adaptation of photovoltaic panels on the site, the production exceeds the consumption all through the year, except for the months of December and January, when the installation covers 45% and 75% of the consumption, respectively. Increasing the built density of the neighborhood by roof stacking allows the different environmental impacts, calculated per inhabitant, to be homogeneously minimized. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Exposure to Submicron Particles and Estimation of the Dose Received by Children in School and Non-School Environments
Atmosphere 2020, 11(5), 485; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11050485 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
In the present study, the daily dose in terms of submicron particle surface area received by children attending schools located in three different areas (rural, suburban, and urban), characterized by different outdoor concentrations, was evaluated. For this purpose, the exposure to submicron particle [...] Read more.
In the present study, the daily dose in terms of submicron particle surface area received by children attending schools located in three different areas (rural, suburban, and urban), characterized by different outdoor concentrations, was evaluated. For this purpose, the exposure to submicron particle concentration levels of the children were measured through a direct exposure assessment approach. In particular, measurements of particle number and lung-deposited surface area concentrations at “personal scale” of 60 children were performed through a handheld particle counter to obtain exposure data in the different microenvironments they resided. Such data were combined with the time–activity pattern data, characteristics of each child, and inhalation rates (related to the activity performed) to obtain the total daily dose in terms of particle surface area. The highest daily dose was estimated for children attending the schools located in the urban and suburban areas (>1000 mm2), whereas the lowest value was estimated for children attending the school located in a rural area (646 mm2). Non-school indoor environments were recognized as the most influential in terms of children’s exposure and, thus, of received dose (>70%), whereas school environments contribute not significantly to the children daily dose, with dose fractions of 15–19% for schools located in urban and suburban areas and just 6% for the rural one. Therefore, the study clearly demonstrates that, whatever the school location, the children daily dose cannot be determined on the basis of the exposures in outdoor or school environments, but a direct assessment able to investigate the exposure of children during indoor environment is essential. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sniffin’ Sticks and Olfactometer-Based Odor Thresholds for n-Butanol: Correspondence and Validity for Indoor Air Scenarios
Atmosphere 2020, 11(5), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11050472 - 07 May 2020
Abstract
Threshold assessments for the reference odorant n-butanol are an integral part of various research, clinical, and environmental sensory testing procedures. However, the practical significance of a high or low threshold for n-butanol beyond a particular testing environment and procedure are often unclear. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Threshold assessments for the reference odorant n-butanol are an integral part of various research, clinical, and environmental sensory testing procedures. However, the practical significance of a high or low threshold for n-butanol beyond a particular testing environment and procedure are often unclear. Therefore, this study aimed to determine between-method correlations and to investigate the association between the n-butanol threshold and perceptual/behavioral odor effects in natural breathing scenarios in 35 healthy adults. The thresholds for n-butanol derived from the Sniffin’ Sticks test and determined by the ascending limit dynamic dilution olfactometry procedure were significantly correlated (∣r∣ = 0.47). However, only the thresholds determined by olfactometry were significantly correlated to the odor detection of n-butanol in an exposure lab. Moreover, participants with a higher sensitivity for n-butanol in the olfactometer-based assessment rated ammonia, during a 75 min exposure, to be more unpleasant and showed better performance in a simultaneous 3-back task than participants with lower sensitivity. The results of this study suggest that beyond the strict parameters of a certain psychophysical procedure, the threshold for n-butanol can be a meaningful indicator of odor detection and effects in some cases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
BTEXS Concentrations and Exposure Assessment in a Fire Station
Atmosphere 2020, 11(5), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11050470 - 06 May 2020
Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and styrene (BTEXS) concentrations in the changing room and garage in a fire station located in the Upper Silesian agglomeration (Poland), to compare them with the concentrations of the same compounds [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and styrene (BTEXS) concentrations in the changing room and garage in a fire station located in the Upper Silesian agglomeration (Poland), to compare them with the concentrations of the same compounds in the atmospheric air (outdoor background) and to assess the health exposure to BTEXS among firefighters and office workers in this unit. BTEXS samples were collected during the winter of 2018 in parallel in the garage, in the changing room, and outside, using sorption tubes filled with activated carbon. The average total BTEXS concentrations in the changing room and garage were over six times higher than those in the atmospheric air in the vicinity of the fire station. At each sampling site, toluene and benzene had the highest concentrations. According to the diagnostic indicators, the combustion of various materials and fuels was the source of BTEXS inside, while outside, the sources were the combustion of fuels and industrial activity. The carcinogenic risk related to benzene inhalation by the firefighters and office employees in the monitored unit exceeded the acceptable risk level value of 7.8 × 10−6 per 1 μg/m3 by more than 20 times. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Chemical Characterization of Electronic Cigarette (e-cigs) Refill Liquids Prior to EU Tobacco Product Directive Adoption: Evaluation of BTEX Contamination by HS-SPME-GC-MS and Identification of Flavoring Additives by GC-MS-O
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040374 - 10 Apr 2020
Abstract
The present study focused on the determination of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) concentration levels in 97 refill liquids for e-cigs selected by the Italian National Institute of Health as representative of the EU market between 2013 and 2015 prior to the [...] Read more.
The present study focused on the determination of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) concentration levels in 97 refill liquids for e-cigs selected by the Italian National Institute of Health as representative of the EU market between 2013 and 2015 prior to the implementation of the European Union (EU) Tobacco Product Directive (TPD). Most of the e-liquids investigated (85/97) were affected by BTEX contamination, with few exceptions observed (levels below the limit of quantification (LOQ) of headspace-solid phase micro extraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) methodology). Across brands, concentration levels ranged from 2.7 to 30,200.0 µg/L for benzene, from 1.9 to 447.8 µg/L for ethylbenzene, from 1.9 to 1,648.4 µg/L for toluene and from 1.7 to 574.2 µg/L for m,p,o-xylenes. The variability observed in BTEX levels is likely to be related to the variability in contamination level of both propylene glycol and glycerol and flavoring additives included. No correlation was found with nicotine content. Moreover, on a limited number of e-liquids, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-olfactometry (GC-MS-O) analysis was performed, allowing the identification of key flavoring additives responsible of specific flavor notes. Among them, diacetyl is a flavoring additive of concern for potential toxicity when directly inhaled into human airways. The data reported are eligible to be included in the pre-TPD database and may represent a reference for the ongoing evaluation on e-liquids safety and quality under the current EU Legislation. Full article
Open AccessCommunication
The Relevance of Indoor Air Quality in Hospital Settings: From an Exclusively Biological Issue to a Global Approach in the Italian Context
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040361 - 08 Apr 2020
Abstract
In the context of the architectures for health, it is an utmost priority to operate a regular and continuous updating of quality, efficacy, and efficiency’s processes. In fact, health promotion and prevention take place through a proper management and design of healing spaces, [...] Read more.
In the context of the architectures for health, it is an utmost priority to operate a regular and continuous updating of quality, efficacy, and efficiency’s processes. In fact, health promotion and prevention take place through a proper management and design of healing spaces, in particular with regard to the most sensitive users. In recent decades, there has been increasing attention to indoor air quality in healthcare facilities. Nowadays, this issue must involve the implementation of a series of appropriate interventions, with a global approach of prevention and reduction of risk factors on users’ health, which allows, in addition to a correct management of hospital settings, the realization of concrete actions. To date, in Italy, despite the indoor air being taken in consideration in numerous activities and studies aimed at understanding both building hygiene and environmental aspects, the greatest difficulty is strongly related to the absence of an integrated national policy. The scope of the paper is to underline the relevance of indoor air quality in hospital settings, highlighting the need of procedures, protocols, and tools for strengthening and improving interventions for health prevention, protection, and promotion of users. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Comfort and Symptomatology in Non-University Educational Buildings: Occupants’ Perception
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040357 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The indoor environment in non-university classrooms is one of the most analyzed problems in the thermal comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ) areas. Traditional schools in southern Europe are usually equipped with heating-only systems and naturally ventilated, but climate change processes are both [...] Read more.
The indoor environment in non-university classrooms is one of the most analyzed problems in the thermal comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ) areas. Traditional schools in southern Europe are usually equipped with heating-only systems and naturally ventilated, but climate change processes are both progressively increasing average temperatures and lengthening the warm periods. In addition, air renewal is relayed in these buildings to uncontrolled infiltration and windows’ operation, but urban environmental pollution is exacerbating allergies and respiratory conditions among the youth population. In this way, this exposure has a significant effect on both the academic performance and the general health of the users. Thus, the analysis of the occupants’ noticed symptoms and their perception of the indoor environment is identified as a potential complementary tool to a more comprehensive indoor comfort assessment. The research presents an analysis based on environmental sensation votes, perception, and indoor-related symptoms described by students during lessons contrasted with physical and measured parameters and operational scenarios. This methodology is applied to 47 case studies in naturally ventilated classrooms in southern Europe. The main conclusions are related to the direct influence of windows’ operation on symptoms like tiredness, as well as the low impact of CO2 concentration variance on symptomatology because they usually exceeded recommended levels. In addition, this work found a relationship between symptoms under study with temperature values and the environmental perception votes, and the special impact of the lack of suitable ventilation and air purifier systems together with the inadequacy of current thermal systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Air Quality Improvement by Simple Ventilated Practice and Sansevieria Trifasciata
Atmosphere 2020, 11(3), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11030271 - 09 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Optimum thermal comfort and good indoor air quality (IAQ) is important for occupants. In tropical region offices, an air conditioner is indispensable due to extreme high temperatures. However, the poor ventilation causes health issues. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to propose [...] Read more.
Optimum thermal comfort and good indoor air quality (IAQ) is important for occupants. In tropical region offices, an air conditioner is indispensable due to extreme high temperatures. However, the poor ventilation causes health issues. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to propose an improving IAQ method with low energy consumption. Temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 and CO concentration were monitored in a poorly ventilated office for one year to observe seasonal variation. The results showed that the maximum CO2 concentration was above the recommended level for comfort. Simple ventilated practices and placing a number of Sansevieria trifasciata (S. trifasciata) plants were applied to improve the IAQ with the focus on decreasing CO2 concentration as well as achieving energy saving. Reductions of 19.9%, 22.5%, and 58.2% of the CO2 concentration were achieved by ventilation through the door during lunchtime, morning, and full working period, respectively. Placing S. trifasciata in the office could reduce the CO2 concentration by 10.47%–19.29%. A computer simulation was created to observe the efficiency of simple practices to find the optimum conditions. An electricity cost saving of 24.3% was projected for the most feasible option with a consequent reduction in global warming potential, which also resulted in improved IAQ. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Particle Concentrations, Size Distributions, and Exposures in Middle Eastern Microenvironments
Atmosphere 2020, 11(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11010041 - 28 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
There is limited research on indoor air quality in the Middle East. In this study, concentrations and size distributions of indoor particles were measured in eight Jordanian dwellings during the winter and summer. Supplemental measurements of selected gaseous pollutants were also conducted. Indoor [...] Read more.
There is limited research on indoor air quality in the Middle East. In this study, concentrations and size distributions of indoor particles were measured in eight Jordanian dwellings during the winter and summer. Supplemental measurements of selected gaseous pollutants were also conducted. Indoor cooking, heating via the combustion of natural gas and kerosene, and tobacco/shisha smoking were associated with significant increases in the concentrations of ultrafine, fine, and coarse particles. Particle number (PN) and particle mass (PM) size distributions varied with the different indoor emission sources and among the eight dwellings. Natural gas cooking and natural gas or kerosene heaters were associated with PN concentrations on the order of 100,000 to 400,000 cm−3 and PM2.5 concentrations often in the range of 10 to 150 µg/m3. Tobacco and shisha (waterpipe or hookah) smoking, the latter of which is common in Jordan, were found to be strong emitters of indoor ultrafine and fine particles in the dwellings. Non-combustion cooking activities emitted comparably less PN and PM2.5. Indoor cooking and combustion processes were also found to increase concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. In general, concentrations of indoor particles were lower during the summer compared to the winter. In the absence of indoor activities, indoor PN and PM2.5 concentrations were generally below 10,000 cm−3 and 30 µg/m3, respectively. Collectively, the results suggest that Jordanian indoor environments can be heavily polluted when compared to the surrounding outdoor atmosphere primarily due to the ubiquity of indoor combustion associated with cooking, heating, and smoking. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Indoor Air Quality: A Focus on the European Legislation and State-of-the-Art Research in Italy
Atmosphere 2020, 11(4), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040370 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
The World Health Organization (WHO) has always stressed the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) and the potential danger of pollutants emitted from indoor sources; thus, it has become one of the main determinants for health. In recent years, reference documents and guidelines [...] Read more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has always stressed the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) and the potential danger of pollutants emitted from indoor sources; thus, it has become one of the main determinants for health. In recent years, reference documents and guidelines have been produced on many pollutants in order to: i) decrease their impact on human health (as well as the number of pollutants present in indoor environments), and ii) regulate the relevant levels of chemicals that can be emitted from the various materials. The aim of this paper is to discuss and compare the different legislations present in the European Union (EU). Furthermore, a focus of this paper will be dedicated at Italian legislation, where there is currently no specific reference to IAQ. Although initiatives in the pre-regulatory sector have multiplied, a comprehensive and integrated policy on the issue is lacking. Pending framework law for indoor air quality, which takes into account WHO indications, the National Study Group (GdS) on Indoor Air Pollution by the Italian Institute of Health (IIS) is committed to providing shared technical-scientific documents in order to allow actions harmonized at a national level. An outlook of the main Italian papers published during these last five years will be reported and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Impact of Indoor Malodor: Historical Perspective, Modern Challenges, Negative Effects, and Approaches for Mitigation
Atmosphere 2020, 11(2), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11020126 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
Malodors, odors perceived to be unpleasant or offensive, may elicit negative symptoms via the olfactory system’s connections to cognitive and behavioral systems at levels below the known thresholds for direct adverse events. Publications on harm caused by indoor malodor are fragmented across disciplines [...] Read more.
Malodors, odors perceived to be unpleasant or offensive, may elicit negative symptoms via the olfactory system’s connections to cognitive and behavioral systems at levels below the known thresholds for direct adverse events. Publications on harm caused by indoor malodor are fragmented across disciplines and have not been comprehensively summarized to date. This review examines the potential negative effects of indoor malodor on human behavior, performance and health, including individual factors that may govern such responses and identifies gaps in existing research. Reported findings show that indoor malodor may have negative psychological, physical, social, and economic effects. However, further research is needed to understand whether the adverse effects are elicited via an individual’s experience or expectations or through a direct effect on human physiology and well-being. Conversely, mitigating indoor malodor has been reported to have benefits on performance and subjective responses in workers. Eliminating the source of malodor is often not achievable, particularly in low-income communities. Therefore, affordable approaches to mitigate indoor malodor such as air fresheners may hold promise. However, further investigations are needed into the effectiveness of such measures on improving health outcomes such as cognition, mood, and stress levels and their overall impact on indoor air quality. Full article
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