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Presentation on theme: "JO IMMIG NATIONAL TOXICS NETWORK Indoor Air Quality and Health."— Presentation transcript:

1 JO IMMIG NATIONAL TOXICS NETWORK Indoor Air Quality and Health

2 National Toxics Network Inc. Established in 1993, we are Australia’s peak non-government group working on chemical pollution issues. We provide technical expertise, network capacity and information to the community, environment sector, government and industry on a range of chemical issues. We represent Australian NGOs in the negotiating processes for the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions, Waigani Convention on Hazardous Waste and Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM). We currently represent the Australian Environment Network on the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) Community Engagement Forum and Nanotechnology Committee.

3 What is IAQ? Indoor air quality [IAQ] is defined as the nature of air that affects the health and well-being of a building’s occupants. Critical aspects of the indoor air environment include air temperature, humidity, ventilation rate, indoor air pollutants IAPs. Indoor air quality is a critical component to consider in any discussion of the eco-sustainability of buildings. Indoor air quality is a significant public health issue and a matter of liability for employers and building managers who fail to provide a safe working environment.

4 IAQ and energy efficiency There is a potential conflict between requirements for energy efficiency and good indoor air quality. During the “energy crisis” in the 1970s there was a trend towards design and construction of “tight buildings” for more efficient heating and cooling. This reduced rates of natural or passive ventilation. As a result, contaminants can concentrate inside. This is also true of buildings with mechanised ventilation, where the need buildings energy efficient can also lead to lower air exchange rates and a consequent concentration of indoor pollutants.

5 Why is IAQ important to our health? The amount of time people spend indoors has increased dramatically. People in industrialised countries now spend 70- 90% of their time indoors: work, home, and in enclosed vehicles. The rapid proliferation of new building materials and consumer products, such as plastics, is exposing people and the environment to many new sources of pollutants.

6 Pollutants and allergens Sources: Building operations eg ventilation systems Construction materials eg particle board Products used indoors eg cleaning fluids Activities indoors eg photocopying Outdoor pollutants eg car exhaust fumes, pesticides Air is a mixture of gases and small particles that can contain substances that impact your health. These substances may be pollutants (formaldehyde) or allergens (dust mites). Air pollutants can come from manufactured sources or occur naturally.

7 How do we get exposed? Pollutants enter the human body through: breathing in polluted air (inhalation) swallowing harmful substances (ingestion) absorbing pollutants through the skin (absorption). Some groups of people are more vulnerable than others. These include: the very young the very old those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease those who are sensitised to a substance Everybody’s immune system reacts differently to different substances. Not everyone is allergic and there are differences between individuals as to the substances they are allergic to.

8 Typical indoor air pollutants Nitrogen dioxide (gas combustion) Carbon monoxide (gas combustion, idling cars) Formaldehyde (pressed wood products, laminates) Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs] (new building components, cleaning agents, pesticides, office equipment) Passive smoke (tobacco smoke) Dust mite allergens (carpets and furniture) Mould spores (damp areas, window sills) Lead in indoor dust (old buildings and paint)

9 Health impacts Poor indoor air quality can cause a range of health effects from mild and generally non- specific symptoms such as headaches, tiredness or lethargy to more severe effects such as aggravation of asthma and allergic responses. The health impacts of individual chemical components in building materials are not well understood. Many chemicals present in indoor air environments have not been thoroughly tested and little is known about their long term health effects. Even less understood is the health impacts from constant exposure to mixtures of chemicals that result inside.

10 Prevention is better than cure Ideally IAQ is considered at the design phase of any building or renovation in terms of site choice, aspect and ventilation and building material choices. Existing buildings can be modified to improve IAQ by improving ventilation rates, managing damp, venting gas appliances, changing internal practices such as the location of office equipment. Reduce IAPs at their source by switching to green cleaning, non-chemical pest management, no or low- emission furnishings, paints and materials, adopting a fragrance-free policy.

11 Further information: Healthy Homes - A guide to indoor air quality in the home for buyers, builders and renovators. enHealth Dept. of Health and Aging National Toxics Network

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