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In buildings it all about health and indoor air quality!
News
July 10, 2013

In buildings it all about health and indoor air quality!

Swegon Air Academy seminar in Marseille in France on June 7 was held in small chateau with beautiful surroundings. Total of 27 participants were listening to the presentation of Suzanne Deoux and Frank Hovorka on Added-value of commercial buildings.

Suzanne spend large amount of the time talking about the indoor air quality. She started off with the announcement about the great discovery of the 21st century showing that we breathe in buildings more polluted air than outdoor air. This is a leading cause of mortality in the toxic buildings, i.e. with a hundred deaths per year on average; carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental death in France. Between 1 September and 31 March 2012, 3228 people were exposed to CO fumes and among them, 541 were hospitalized. Also benzene levels observed in buildings are high, for example documented 10 cases per 100 000 inhabitants in France.

Suzanne stated three arguments about indoor air quality: „Firstly, we have epidemiological data about specific disease dose/response which can be credibly extrapolated to indoor air levels for only very few VOCs, benzene, naphthalene and formaldehyde (Kotzias et al. 2006, INDEX report). For the other VOCs we have experimental toxicological data on animals and volunteering humans mostly at very much higher than common indoor air levels.  Some mixtures have in some laboratory experiments been shown to be much more potent than the sum of individual VOCs. High indoor air TVOC levels have also been associated with sick building syndrome and reduced learning in schools or productivity at workplaces, and, furthermore, interventions to reduce such levels by increased fresh air exchange, case by case, have been shown to reduce the symptoms and improve performance. Such interventions, however, are not specific for the VOCs, but dilute the levels of all contaminants generated indoors. No theory for causality or D/R model exists to link the common indoor air levels of dozens of VOCs to population level burden of disease.“

„Secondly, population representative indoor air VOC exposure data exist only for two countries, Germany (GerES I … IV) and France (OQAI), and a number of cities studied in the EXPOLIS, MACBETH, AIRMEX and PEOPLE projects.

„Thirdly, the health problems of VOCs appear mostly in new, newly renovated of refurbished buildings, which – at any time – represent only a few percent of the total building stock occupied by the population. Therefore, even if significant health impacts were found in such buildings, the impact on the national BoD  remains relatively small in comparison to e.g. indoor exposure to fine PM of outdoor origin which affects most of the urban populations, or to ETS which still affect majority of the population in many European countries.

„Consequently, the public health role of the VOCs is certainly underestimated and should not be ignored. Besides, this role is highly relevant for the quality, safety and liability of European building products and materials and daily household products, and, thus, for a smoothly functioning European common marketplace.