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Rebuilding indoor air quality standards

With the realisation that most people spend more time indoors than anywhere else, the importance of indoor air quality has become one of international focus. Initial discoveries concerning ailments such as sick building syndrome that affect both human health and productivity lead to even greater research initiatives. The current investigation seeks to establish the correlating data between how office refurbishment affects indoor air quality.

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Because of the growing trend in Europe to refurbish buildings rather than build new ones, an EC funded project undertook studies relating to how refurbishment affects indoor air quality. The study resulted in the development of protocols and supporting Management Information Systems to assist in controlling the effects refurbishing has on indoor air quality. The protocol's components included three developments, a database of pollutants, a methodology for building diagnostics (including IAQ surveys on existing structures) and a specification system for IAQ monitoring and evaluation. The database includes such factors as pollutants from refurbishment materials and methods as well as their respective threshold limit values (TLV). These values determine the maximum limit of pollutant chemicals that can be found in an environment in order not to compromise human health. The diagnostic element, both pre and during refurbishment provide details on specifications and measure to control pollutants through treating materials at source. It also includes such integral factors as ventilation and air conditioning systems, including a model to estimate pollution load and rate of decay during and after material application. Overall, the protocol provides much needed information to bring to light just how renovation and refurbishing does affect the environment and human health. The research is entering further development but support to establish a code of practice and integration of the protocol into total quality management practices is being sought.

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