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Special Issue "Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Gary Adamkiewicz

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Landmark Center West Room 404K, 401 Park Dr., Boston, MA 02215, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: housing, health, disparities, indoor air quality, environmental justice
Guest Editor
Dr. M. Patricia Fabian

Department of Environmental Health Boston University 715 Albany St., T4W, Boston, MA 02118, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: indoor air; aerobiology; exposure assessment; geographical information systems (GIS); indoor simulation modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human exposure to environmental contaminants is often shaped by attributes of the indoor environments in which we spend the majority of our time. Globally, attention is beginning to focus on health risks from emerging indoor contaminants, such as flame retardants and phthalates, while, in developing countries, combustion by-products from biomass fuel burning continue to contribute to morbidity and mortality.  While recent decades have produced a significant body of research on these exposures and their determinants, many knowledge gaps remain, especially related to the design of effective intervention strategies.

This issue will highlight new research and analyses on how indoor environments (residential, commercial, etc.) influence personal exposures and human health, and how these pathways can be modified to mitigate negative effects. Research papers, analytical reviews, case studies, conceptual frameworks, and policy-relevant articles are solicited.  Of particular interest are articles involving low-income and vulnerable populations and those which highlight emerging contaminants or under-studied topic areas. We also encourage authors to submit studies which address issues and approaches relevant to developing countries.

Dr. Gary Adamkiewicz
Dr. M. Patricia Fabian
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.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 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 environment,
  • IAQ
  • Climate
  • Ventilatiom
  • Weatherization
  • household fuels
  • solid fuels
  • housing
  • low-income and vulnerable populations
  • developing countries
  • environmental exposure health risk
  • education
  • intervention

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Infiltration in Low-Income Multifamily Housing before and after Building Energy Retrofits
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(3), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13030327
Received: 14 December 2015 / Revised: 3 March 2016 / Accepted: 7 March 2016 / Published: 16 March 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2813 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Secondhand exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in multifamily housing remains a health concern despite strong recommendations to implement non-smoking policies. Multiple studies have documented exposure to ETS in non-smoking units located in buildings with smoking units. However, characterizing the magnitude of ETS [...] Read more.
Secondhand exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in multifamily housing remains a health concern despite strong recommendations to implement non-smoking policies. Multiple studies have documented exposure to ETS in non-smoking units located in buildings with smoking units. However, characterizing the magnitude of ETS infiltration or measuring the impact of building interventions or resident behavior on ETS is challenging due to the complexities of multifamily buildings, which include variable resident behaviors and complex airflows between numerous shared compartments (e.g., adjacent apartments, common hallways, elevators, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, stack effect). In this study, building simulation models were used to characterize changes in ETS infiltration in a low income, multifamily apartment building in Boston which underwent extensive building renovations targeting energy savings. Results suggest that exterior wall air sealing can lead to increases in ETS infiltration across apartments, while compartmentalization can reduce infiltration. The magnitude and direction of ETS infiltration depends on apartment characteristics, including construction (i.e., level and number of exterior walls), resident behavior (e.g., window opening, operation of localized exhaust fans), and seasonality. Although overall ETS concentrations and infiltration were reduced post energy-related building retrofits, these trends were not generalizable to all building units. Whole building smoke-free policies are the best approach to eliminate exposure to ETS in multifamily housing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Prevalence of Residential Dampness and Mold Exposure in a University Student Population
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(2), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13020194
Received: 1 October 2015 / Revised: 17 January 2016 / Accepted: 29 January 2016 / Published: 5 February 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (720 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The impact of residential dampness or mold on respiratory health is well established but few studies have focused on university students. This study aims to: (a) describe the prevalence of exposure to residential dampness or mold in university students according to socio-geographic factors [...] Read more.
The impact of residential dampness or mold on respiratory health is well established but few studies have focused on university students. This study aims to: (a) describe the prevalence of exposure to residential dampness or mold in university students according to socio-geographic factors and (b) identify associated housing characteristics. A web survey was conducted in 2014 among the 26,676 students registered at the Université de Sherbrooke (QC, Canada). Residential dampness and mold being closely intertwined, they were considered as a single exposure and assessed using a validated questionnaire. Exposure was compared according to socio-geographic and housing characteristics using chi-square tests and logistic regressions. Among the 2097 participants included in the study (response rate: 8.1%), over 80% were tenants. Residential exposure to dampness or mold was frequent (36.0%, 95% CI: 33.9–38.1). Marked differences for this exposure were noted according to home ownership (39.7% vs. 25.5% among tenants and owners respectively; OR = 1.92%, 95% CI: 1.54–2.38). Campus affiliation, household composition and the number of residents per building were associated with exposure to dampness or mold (p < 0.01), while sex and age were not. Exposure was also associated with older buildings, and buildings in need of renovations and lacking proper ventilation (p < 0.001). This study highlights the potential risk of university students suffering from mold-related health effects given their frequent exposure to this agent. Further research is needed to fully evaluate the mold-related health impact in this at risk group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Airborne Particulate Matter in Two Multi-Family Green Buildings: Concentrations and Effect of Ventilation and Occupant Behavior
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13010144
Received: 16 November 2015 / Revised: 5 January 2016 / Accepted: 12 January 2016 / Published: 20 January 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2200 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
There are limited data on air quality parameters, including airborne particulate matter (PM) in residential green buildings, which are increasing in prevalence. Exposure to PM is associated with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and since Americans spend almost 90% of their time indoors, residential [...] Read more.
There are limited data on air quality parameters, including airborne particulate matter (PM) in residential green buildings, which are increasing in prevalence. Exposure to PM is associated with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and since Americans spend almost 90% of their time indoors, residential exposures may substantially contribute to overall airborne PM exposure. Our objectives were to: (1) measure various PM fractions longitudinally in apartments in multi-family green buildings with natural (Building E) and mechanical (Building L) ventilation; (2) compare indoor and outdoor PM mass concentrations and their ratios (I/O) in these buildings, taking into account the effects of occupant behavior; and (3) evaluate the effect of green building designs and operations on indoor PM. We evaluated effects of ventilation, occupant behaviors, and overall building design on PM mass concentrations and I/O. Median PMTOTAL was higher in Building E (56 µg/m3) than in Building L (37 µg/m3); I/O was higher in Building E (1.3–2.0) than in Building L (0.5–0.8) for all particle size fractions. Our data show that the building design and occupant behaviors that either produce or dilute indoor PM (e.g., ventilation systems, combustion sources, and window operation) are important factors affecting residents’ exposure to PM in residential green buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Prediction of Indoor Air Exposure from Outdoor Air Quality Using an Artificial Neural Network Model for Inner City Commercial Buildings
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15233-15253; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121214975
Received: 23 September 2015 / Revised: 8 November 2015 / Accepted: 25 November 2015 / Published: 1 December 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1486 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
NO2 and particulate matter are the air pollutants of most concern in Ireland, with possible links to the higher respiratory and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity rates found in the country compared to the rest of Europe. Currently, air quality limits in Europe [...] Read more.
NO2 and particulate matter are the air pollutants of most concern in Ireland, with possible links to the higher respiratory and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity rates found in the country compared to the rest of Europe. Currently, air quality limits in Europe only cover outdoor environments yet the quality of indoor air is an essential determinant of a person’s well-being, especially since the average person spends more than 90% of their time indoors. The modelling conducted in this research aims to provide a framework for epidemiological studies by the use of publically available data from fixed outdoor monitoring stations to predict indoor air quality more accurately. Predictions are made using two modelling techniques, the Personal-exposure Activity Location Model (PALM), to predict outdoor air quality at a particular building, and Artificial Neural Networks, to model the indoor/outdoor relationship of the building. This joint approach has been used to predict indoor air concentrations for three inner city commercial buildings in Dublin, where parallel indoor and outdoor diurnal monitoring had been carried out on site. This modelling methodology has been shown to provide reasonable predictions of average NO2 indoor air quality compared to the monitored data, but did not perform well in the prediction of indoor PM2.5 concentrations. Hence, this approach could be used to determine NO2 exposures more rigorously of those who work and/or live in the city centre, which can then be linked to potential health impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Economic, Environmental and Health Implications of Enhanced Ventilation in Office Buildings
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(11), 14709-14722; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121114709
Received: 30 September 2015 / Revised: 22 October 2015 / Accepted: 30 October 2015 / Published: 18 November 2015
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Introduction: Current building ventilation standards are based on acceptable minimums. Three decades of research demonstrates the human health benefits of increased ventilation above these minimums. Recent research also shows the benefits on human decision-making performance in office workers, which translates to increased productivity. [...] Read more.
Introduction: Current building ventilation standards are based on acceptable minimums. Three decades of research demonstrates the human health benefits of increased ventilation above these minimums. Recent research also shows the benefits on human decision-making performance in office workers, which translates to increased productivity. However, adoption of enhanced ventilation strategies is lagging. We sought to evaluate two of the perceived potential barriers to more widespread adoption—Economic and environmental costs. Methods: We estimated the energy consumption and associated per building occupant costs for office buildings in seven U.S. cities, representing different climate zones for three ventilation scenarios (standard practice (20 cfm/person), 30% enhanced ventilation, and 40 cfm/person) and four different heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system strategies (Variable Air Volume (VAV) with reheat and a Fan Coil Unit (FCU), both with and without an energy recovery ventilator). We also estimated emissions of greenhouse gases associated with this increased energy usage, and, for comparison, converted this to the equivalent number of vehicles using greenhouse gas equivalencies. Lastly, we paired results from our previous research on cognitive function and ventilation with labor statistics to estimate the economic benefit of increased productivity associated with increasing ventilation rates. Results: Doubling the ventilation rate from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers minimum cost less than $40 per person per year in all climate zones investigated. Using an energy recovery ventilation system significantly reduced energy costs, and in some scenarios led to a net savings. At the highest ventilation rate, adding an ERV essentially neutralized the environmental impact of enhanced ventilation (0.03 additional cars on the road per building across all cities). The same change in ventilation improved the performance of workers by 8%, equivalent to a $6500 increase in employee productivity each year. Reduced absenteeism and improved health are also seen with enhanced ventilation. Conclusions: The health benefits associated with enhanced ventilation rates far exceed the per-person energy costs relative to salary costs. Environmental impacts can be mitigated at regional, building, and individual-level scales through the transition to renewable energy sources, adoption of energy efficient systems and ventilation strategies, and promotion of other sustainable policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Environmental Quality in Mechanically Ventilated, Energy-Efficient Buildings vs. Conventional Buildings
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(11), 14132-14147; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121114132
Received: 29 September 2015 / Revised: 21 October 2015 / Accepted: 28 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (171 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Energy-efficient buildings need mechanical ventilation. However, there are concerns that inadequate mechanical ventilation may lead to impaired indoor air quality. Using a semi-experimental field study, we investigated if exposure of occupants of two types of buildings (mechanical vs. natural ventilation) differs with regard [...] Read more.
Energy-efficient buildings need mechanical ventilation. However, there are concerns that inadequate mechanical ventilation may lead to impaired indoor air quality. Using a semi-experimental field study, we investigated if exposure of occupants of two types of buildings (mechanical vs. natural ventilation) differs with regard to indoor air pollutants and climate factors. We investigated living and bedrooms in 123 buildings (62 highly energy-efficient and 61 conventional buildings) built in the years 2010 to 2012 in Austria (mainly Vienna and Lower Austria). Measurements of indoor parameters (climate, chemical pollutants and biological contaminants) were conducted twice. In total, more than 3000 measurements were performed. Almost all indoor air quality and room climate parameters showed significantly better results in mechanically ventilated homes compared to those relying on ventilation from open windows and/or doors. This study does not support the hypothesis that occupants in mechanically ventilated low energy houses are exposed to lower indoor air quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Association of Roadway Proximity with Indoor Air Pollution in a Peri-Urban Community in Lima, Peru
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(10), 13466-13481; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121013466
Received: 31 August 2015 / Revised: 26 September 2015 / Accepted: 9 October 2015 / Published: 26 October 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1069 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The influence of traffic-related air pollution on indoor residential exposure is not well characterized in homes with high natural ventilation in low-income countries. Additionally, domestic allergen exposure is unknown in such populations. We conducted a pilot study of 25 homes in peri-urban Lima, [...] Read more.
The influence of traffic-related air pollution on indoor residential exposure is not well characterized in homes with high natural ventilation in low-income countries. Additionally, domestic allergen exposure is unknown in such populations. We conducted a pilot study of 25 homes in peri-urban Lima, Peru to estimate the effects of roadway proximity and season on residential concentrations. Indoor and outdoor concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and black carbon (BC) were measured OPEN ACCESS Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12 13467 during two seasons, and allergens were measured in bedroom dust. Allergen levels were highest for dust mite and mouse allergens, with concentrations above clinically relevant thresholds in over a quarter and half of all homes, respectively. Mean indoor and outdoor pollutant concentrations were similar (PM2.5: 20.0 vs. 16.9 μg/m3, BC: 7.6 vs. 8.1 μg/m3, NO2: 7.3 vs. 7.5 ppb), and tended to be higher in the summer compared to the winter. Road proximity was significantly correlated with overall concentrations of outdoor PM2.5 (rs = −0.42, p = 0.01) and NO2 (rs = −0.36, p = 0.03), and outdoor BC concentrations in the winter (rs = −0.51, p = 0.03). Our results suggest that outdoor-sourced pollutants significantly influence indoor air quality in peri-urban Peruvian communities, and homes closer to roadways are particularly vulnerable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Household Air Pollution and Under-Five Mortality in Bangladesh (2004–2011)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(10), 12847-12862; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121012847
Received: 5 July 2015 / Revised: 30 August 2015 / Accepted: 9 October 2015 / Published: 15 October 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (860 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Household air pollution (HAP) is one of the leading causes of respiratory illness and deaths among children under five years in Bangladesh. This study investigates the association between HAP from cooking fuel and under-five mortality using Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) datasets [...] Read more.
Household air pollution (HAP) is one of the leading causes of respiratory illness and deaths among children under five years in Bangladesh. This study investigates the association between HAP from cooking fuel and under-five mortality using Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) datasets over the period 2004–2011 (n = 18,308 children), and the extent to which this association differed by environmental and behavioral factors affecting level of exposure. The association between HAP and neonatal (age between 0–28 days), infant (age between 0 and 11 months) and under–five (age between 0 and 59 months) mortality was examined using multilevel logistic regression models. HAP was not strongly associated with overall neonatal (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.01–2.22, p = 0.043), infant (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 0.91–1.77, p = 0.157) or under-five mortality (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 0.83–1.55, p = 0.422) in the context of overall decreasing trends in under-five mortality. The association was stronger for households with an indoor kitchen using polluting fuels, and in women who had never breastfed. Reductions in exposure to pollution from cooking fuel, given it is a ubiquitous and modifiable risk factor, can result in further declines in under-five mortality with household design and behavioural interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Occupant Interactions and Effectiveness of Natural Ventilation Strategies in Contemporary New Housing in Scotland, UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 8480-8497; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120708480
Received: 30 May 2015 / Revised: 30 May 2015 / Accepted: 15 July 2015 / Published: 21 July 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2406 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The need to reduce carbon emissions and fuel poverty has led to increased building envelope air tightness, intended to reduce uncontrolled ventilation heat losses. Ventilation strategies in dwellings still allow the use of trickle ventilators in window frames for background ventilation. The extent [...] Read more.
The need to reduce carbon emissions and fuel poverty has led to increased building envelope air tightness, intended to reduce uncontrolled ventilation heat losses. Ventilation strategies in dwellings still allow the use of trickle ventilators in window frames for background ventilation. The extent to which this results in “healthy” Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in recently constructed dwellings was a concern of regulators in Scotland. This paper describes research to explore this. First a review of literature was conducted, then data on occupant interactions with ventilation provisions (windows, doors, trickle vents) gathered through an interview-based survey of 200 recently constructed dwellings, and measurements made on a sample of 40 of these. The main measured parameter discussed here is CO2 concentration. It was concluded after the literature review that 1000 ppm absolute was a reasonable threshold to use for “adequate” ventilation. The occupant survey found that there was very little occupant interaction with the trickle ventilators e.g., in bedrooms 63% were always closed, 28% always open, and in only 9% of cases occupants intervened to make occasional adjustments. In the measured dwellings average bedroom CO2 levels of 1520 ppm during occupied (night time) hours were observed. Where windows were open the average bedroom CO2 levels were 972 ppm. With windows closed, the combination of “trickle ventilators open plus doors open” gave an average of 1021 ppm. “Trickle ventilators open” gave an average of 1571 ppm. All other combinations gave averages of 1550 to 2000 ppm. Ventilation rates and air change rates were estimated from measured CO2 levels, for all dwellings calculated ventilation rate was less than 8 L/s/p, in 42% of cases calculated air change rate was less than 0.5 ach. It was concluded that trickle ventilation as installed and used is ineffective in meeting desired ventilation rates, evidenced by high CO2 levels reported across the sampled dwellings. Potential implications of the results are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Long-Term Health and Economic Impacts of Central Residential Air Filtration for Reducing Premature Mortality Associated with Indoor Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) of Outdoor Origin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 8448-8479; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120708448
Received: 1 June 2015 / Revised: 1 June 2015 / Accepted: 9 July 2015 / Published: 21 July 2015
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (3467 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Much of human exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of outdoor origin occurs in residences. High-efficiency particle air filtration in central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems is increasingly being used to reduce concentrations of particulate matter inside homes. However, questions [...] Read more.
Much of human exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of outdoor origin occurs in residences. High-efficiency particle air filtration in central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems is increasingly being used to reduce concentrations of particulate matter inside homes. However, questions remain about the effectiveness of filtration for reducing exposures to PM2.5 of outdoor origin and adverse health outcomes. Here we integrate epidemiology functions and mass balance modeling to estimate the long-term health and economic impacts of HVAC filtration for reducing premature mortality associated with indoor PM2.5 of outdoor origin in residences. We evaluate 11 classifications of filters (MERV 5 through HEPA) using six case studies of single-family home vintages and ventilation system combinations located in 22 U.S. cities. We estimate that widespread use of higher efficiency filters would reduce premature mortality by 0.002–2.5% and increase life expectancy by 0.02–1.6 months, yielding annual monetary benefits ranging from $1 to $1348 per person in the homes and locations modeled herein. Large differences in the magnitude of health and economic impacts are driven largely by differences in rated filter efficiency and building and ventilation system characteristics that govern particle infiltration and persistence, with smaller influences attributable to geographic location. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
PM2.5 in Urban and Rural Nursery Schools in Upper Silesia, Poland: Trace Elements Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 7990-8008; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120707990
Received: 19 May 2015 / Revised: 25 June 2015 / Accepted: 8 July 2015 / Published: 14 July 2015
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (1085 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Indoor air quality (IAQ) in nursery schools is an emerging public health challenge. Particular attention should be paid to younger children, because they are more vulnerable to air pollution than older children. Among air pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is of [...] Read more.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) in nursery schools is an emerging public health challenge. Particular attention should be paid to younger children, because they are more vulnerable to air pollution than older children. Among air pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is of the greatest interest mainly due to its strong association with acute and chronic effects on children’s health. In this paper, we present concentrations of PM2.5 and the composition of its trace elements at naturally ventilated nursery schools located in the area of Gliwice, Poland. The nursery schools were selected to characterize areas with different degrees of urbanization and traffic densities during the winter and spring seasons. The results indicate there is a problem with elevated concentrations of PM2.5 inside the examined classrooms. The children’s exposure to trace elements was different based on localization and season. PM2.5 concentration and its trace element composition have been studied using correlation coefficients between the different trace elements, the enrichment factor (EF) and principal component analysis (PCA). PCA allowed the identification of the three components: anthropogenic and geogenic sources (37.2%), soil dust contaminated by sewage sludge dumping (18.6%) and vehicular emissions (19.5%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Indoor Particulate Matter Concentration, Water Boiling Time, and Fuel Use of Selected Alternative Cookstoves in a Home-Like Setting in Rural Nepal
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 7558-7581; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120707558
Received: 17 February 2015 / Revised: 6 June 2015 / Accepted: 30 June 2015 / Published: 7 July 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (3446 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Alternative cookstoves are designed to improve biomass fuel combustion efficiency to reduce the amount of fuel used and lower emission of air pollutants. The Nepal Cookstove Trial (NCT) studies effects of alternative cookstoves on family health. Our study measured indoor particulate matter concentration [...] Read more.
Alternative cookstoves are designed to improve biomass fuel combustion efficiency to reduce the amount of fuel used and lower emission of air pollutants. The Nepal Cookstove Trial (NCT) studies effects of alternative cookstoves on family health. Our study measured indoor particulate matter concentration (PM2.5), boiling time, and fuel use of cookstoves during a water-boiling test in a house-like setting in rural Nepal. Study I was designed to select a stove to be used in the NCT; Study II evaluated stoves used in the NCT. In Study I, mean indoor PM2.5 using wood fuel was 4584 μg/m3, 1657 μg/m3, and 2414 μg/m3 for the traditional, alternative mud brick stove (AMBS-I) and Envirofit G-series, respectively. The AMBS-I reduced PM2.5 concentration but increased boiling time compared to the traditional stove (p-values < 0.001). Unlike AMBS-I, Envirofit G-series did not significantly increase overall fuel consumption. In Phase II, the manufacturer altered Envirofit stove (MAES) and Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project Sarlahi (NNIPS) altered Envirofit stove (NAES), produced lower mean PM2.5, 1573 μg/m3 and 1341 μg/m3, respectively, relative to AMBS-II 3488 μg/m3 for wood tests. The liquid propane gas stove had the lowest mean PM2.5 concentrations, with measurements indistinguishable from background levels. Results from Study I and II showed significant reduction in PM2.5 for all alternative stoves in a controlled setting. In study I, the AMBS-I stove required more fuel than the traditional stove. In contrast, in study II, the MAES and NAES stoves required statistically less fuel than the AMBS-II. Reductions and increases in fuel use should be interpreted with caution because the composition of fuels was not standardized—an issue which may have implications for generalizability of other findings as well. Boiling times for alternative stoves in Study I were significantly longer than the traditional stove—a trade-off that may have implications for acceptability of the stoves among end users. These extended cooking times may increase cumulative exposure during cooking events where emission rates are lower; these differences must be carefully considered in the evaluation of alternative stove designs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Building-Related Symptoms among Office Employees Associated with Indoor Carbon Dioxide and Total Volatile Organic Compounds
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(6), 5833-5845; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120605833
Received: 20 February 2015 / Revised: 10 April 2015 / Accepted: 18 May 2015 / Published: 27 May 2015
Cited by 20 | PDF Full-text (712 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study investigated whether sick building syndrome (SBS) complaints among office workers were associated with the indoor air quality. With informed consent, 417 employees in 87 office rooms of eight high-rise buildings completed a self-reported questionnaire for symptoms experienced at work during the [...] Read more.
This study investigated whether sick building syndrome (SBS) complaints among office workers were associated with the indoor air quality. With informed consent, 417 employees in 87 office rooms of eight high-rise buildings completed a self-reported questionnaire for symptoms experienced at work during the past month. Carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature, humidity and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) in each office were simultaneously measured for eight office hours using portable monitors. Time-averaged workday difference between the indoor and the outdoor CO2 concentrations (dCO2) was calculated as a surrogate measure of ventilation efficiency for each office unit. The prevalence rates of SBS were 22.5% for eye syndrome, 15.3% for upper respiratory and 25.4% for non-specific syndromes. Tiredness (20.9%), difficulty in concentrating (14.6%), eye dryness (18.7%) were also common complaints. The generalized estimating equations multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence interval (CI) per 100 ppm increase in dCO2 were significantly associated with dry throat (1.10, 95% CI = (1.00–1.22)), tiredness (1.16, 95% CI = (1.04–1.29)) and dizziness (1.22, 95% CI = (1.08–1.37)). The ORs for per 100 ppb increases in TVOCs were also associated with upper respiratory symptoms (1.06, 95% CI = (1.04–1.07)), dry throat (1.06, 95% CI = (1.03–1.09)) and irritability (1.02, 95% CI = (1.01–1.04)). In conclusion, the association between some SBS symptoms and the exposure to CO2 and total VOCs are moderate but may be independently significant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Exposure to Airborne Particles and Volatile Organic Compounds from Polyurethane Molding, Spray Painting, Lacquering, and Gluing in a Workshop
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(4), 3756-3773; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120403756
Received: 18 December 2014 / Revised: 16 March 2015 / Accepted: 24 March 2015 / Published: 2 April 2015
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Abstract
Due to the health risk related to occupational air pollution exposure, we assessed concentrations and identified sources of particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a handcraft workshop producing fishing lures. The work processes in the site included polyurethane molding, spray painting, lacquering, [...] Read more.
Due to the health risk related to occupational air pollution exposure, we assessed concentrations and identified sources of particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a handcraft workshop producing fishing lures. The work processes in the site included polyurethane molding, spray painting, lacquering, and gluing. We measured total VOC (TVOC) concentrations and particle size distributions at three locations representing the various phases of the manufacturing and assembly process. The mean working-hour TVOC concentrations in three locations studied were 41, 37, and 24 ppm according to photo-ionization detector measurements. The mean working-hour particle number concentration varied between locations from 3000 to 36,000 cm−3. Analysis of temporal and spatial variations of TVOC concentrations revealed that there were at least four substantial VOC sources: spray gluing, mold-release agent spraying, continuous evaporation from various lacquer and paint containers, and either spray painting or lacquering (probably both). The mold-release agent spray was indirectly also a major source of ultrafine particles. The workers’ exposure can be reduced by improving the local exhaust ventilation at the known sources and by increasing the ventilation rate in the area with the continuous source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Exposure to Indoor Pollutants and Wheeze and Asthma Development during Early Childhood
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(4), 3993-4017; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120403993
Received: 4 February 2015 / Revised: 25 March 2015 / Accepted: 3 April 2015 / Published: 13 April 2015
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Abstract
Background: This review aimed to summarize existing epidemiological evidence of the association between quantitative estimates of indoor air pollution with early childhood respiratory disease. Methods: We carried out a systematic literature search of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies undertaken in “westernized” countries that have assessed [...] Read more.
Background: This review aimed to summarize existing epidemiological evidence of the association between quantitative estimates of indoor air pollution with early childhood respiratory disease. Methods: We carried out a systematic literature search of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies undertaken in “westernized” countries that have assessed exposure to indoor pollutants and asthma and wheeze from infancy up to the age of 5. Results: The search, between January 2004 and February 2014 yielded 1840 studies for consideration. Following application of eligibility criteria to titles and abstracts 22 independent studies were deemed relevant for further review. Two additional studies were next identified through examination of the references’ lists of these studies. Of these 24 selected studies, 16 adopted a prospective cohort design and 8 were case-control studies. Fourteen studies assessed exposure to bio-aerosols, 8 studies assessed exposure to specific air chemicals and two studies assessed exposure to bio-aerosols and air chemicals. Furthermore, 11 studies examined the association of exposure with asthma and 16 with wheeze. Findings indicate that existing studies have reported contradictory effects of indoor pollutants levels and occurrence of asthma/wheeze. Conclusion: Additional research to establish causality and evaluate interventions to prevent disease onset is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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Other

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Open AccessConcept Paper
Indoor Air Contamination from Hazardous Waste Sites: Improving the Evidence Base for Decision-Making
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15040-15057; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121214960
Received: 1 October 2015 / Revised: 11 November 2015 / Accepted: 20 November 2015 / Published: 27 November 2015
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Abstract
At hazardous waste sites, volatile chemicals can migrate through groundwater and soil into buildings, a process known as vapor intrusion. Due to increasing recognition of vapor intrusion as a potential indoor air pollution source, in 2015 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released [...] Read more.
At hazardous waste sites, volatile chemicals can migrate through groundwater and soil into buildings, a process known as vapor intrusion. Due to increasing recognition of vapor intrusion as a potential indoor air pollution source, in 2015 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new vapor intrusion guidance document. The guidance specifies two conditions for demonstrating that remediation is needed: (1) proof of a vapor intrusion pathway; and (2) evidence that human health risks exceed established thresholds (for example, one excess cancer among 10,000 exposed people). However, the guidance lacks details on methods for demonstrating these conditions. We review current evidence suggesting that monitoring and modeling approaches commonly employed at vapor intrusion sites do not adequately characterize long-term exposure and in many cases may underestimate risks. On the basis of this evidence, we recommend specific approaches to monitoring and modeling to account for these uncertainties. We propose a value of information approach to integrate the lines of evidence at a site and determine if more information is needed before deciding whether the two conditions specified in the vapor intrusion guidance are satisfied. To facilitate data collection and decision-making, we recommend a multi-directional community engagement strategy and consideration of environment justice concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health)
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