Indoor air quality has a major influence on the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants. Poor air quality has been linked to Sick Building Syndrome, reduced productivity in offices and impaired learning in schools. As people in Europe spend at least 90% of their time indoors, their total exposure to many air pollutants largely depends on their indoor exposure. These pollutants include volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, particulate matter and fibres, and biological particles such as bacteria, fungi and pollen. Pollutant sources include outdoor contaminants from traffic and industry, which enter buildings by infiltration and through ventilation systems, and indoor contaminants from burning fuels, candles and tobacco, and emissions from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, electronic equipment, toiletries, people and pets. New building products can be particularly important pollution sources.
Pollutants' impacts on health depend on their toxicity, concentration and exposure period, and range from odour to irritation to serious toxic effects. The 2006 revision of the Building Regulations concerning ventilation (ADF) set performance criteria for several air pollutants, including VOCs, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
The control of pollutants depends on both tackling their sources and having adequate ventilation with 'fresh' outdoor air. BRE is actively involved in writing international standards for the measurement and control of indoor air pollutants. Our services are based on extensive experience in this area and include:
Evaluating indoor air quality in homes, offices, hospitals, schools, etc. We undertake a wide range of measurements and carry out sampling and analysis within an accredited UKAS framework.
Measuring air exchange rates in buildings and advising on remedial actions.
Dealing with ground contaminants - soil gases entering buildings from the ground are important pollutants at many UK sites. These include radon, a carcinogenic gas occurring in some regions, landfill gases that can be explosive hazards near waste sites, and chemical vapours that can occur where former land use has caused ground contamination. BRE evaluates the impacts of ground contaminants on indoor air quality and assess risks to health.
Assessing other indoor environments such as aircraft cabins, motor vehicles and trains.