Indoor Environmental Quality [chapter]

Sam Kubba
2010 LEED Practices, Certification, and Accreditation Handbook  
During the past few decades the general public has become increasingly aware of the health hazards related to contaminated air. A variety of factors have been found to contribute to poor indoor-air quality in buildings, the primary one being indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air. Other major sources include outdoor pollutants near the building; pollution carried by faulty or inadequate ventilation systems; and a variety of combustion sources such as tobacco
more » ... ch as tobacco smoke, gas, oil, kerosene, coal, wood, and emissions from building materials, furnishings, and various types of equipment. The relative importance of a particular source depends mostly on the amount of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. The people who are affected most by poor indoor-air quality are those who are exposed to it for the longest periods of time. These groups typically consist of the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Poor indoor environmental quality has become a major concern in homes, schools, and workplaces; it can lead to poor health, learning difficulties, and productivity problems. Since the majority of us spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors (especially in the United States), it is not surprising that we should expect our indoor environment to be healthy and free from the plethora of hazardous pollutants. Yet studies by the American College of Allergies show that roughly 50 percent of all illness is aggravated or caused by polluted indoor air. Moreover, cases of building-related illness (BRI) and sick-building syndrome (SBS) continue to rise. The main reason is that the indoor environment we live in is often contaminated by various toxic or hazardous substances as well as pollutants of biological origin (Figure 7 .1). In fact, recent studies point to the presence of more than 900 possible contaminants, from thousands of different sources, in a given indoor environment. Indoor-air pollution is now generally recognized as having a greater potential impact on public health than most types of outdoor-air pollution, causing numerous health problems from respiratory distress to cancer. Furthermore, a building interior's air quality is one of the most pivotal factors in maintaining building occupants' safety, productivity, and wellbeing. This heightened public awareness has led to a sudden surge of demands from building occupants for compensation for their illnesses. Tenants are not only suing building owners but also architects, engineers, and others involved in the building's construction. To shift the blame, building owners have made claims against the consultant, the contractor, and others involved in the construction of the facility.
doi:10.1016/b978-1-85617-691-0.00007-2 fatcat:ng3cdqkaxbexdmilrzw4ai6m5y