Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.
A new study by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that cooking, cleaning and other regular home activities create the level of critical and unstable chemical particles in the average home, thereby increasing the level of indoor air quality equivalent to the polluted major city.
Airborne chemicals that are produced inside a home are not there: Volatile organic compounds (VOC) from products such as shampoo, perfume, and cleaning solutions eventually get out and contribute to the production of ozone and fine particles, which is a big source at the global level air pollution than cars and trucks.
Marina Vance, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder said, “Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that. We wanted to know: How do basic activities like cooking and cleaning change the chemistry of a house?”
In 2018, Marina Vance co-drove the community HOMEChem field campaign, which utilized propelled sensors and cameras to screen the indoor air quality of a 1,200-square-foot manufactured home on the University of Texas Austin grounds. Through the span of a month, Vance and her partners directed an assortment of everyday family exercises, including cooking a full Thanksgiving supper amidst the Texas summer.
While the HOMEChem investigation’s outcomes are as yet pending, Vance said that it’s obvious that homes should be very much ventilated while cooking and cleaning, in light of the fact that even fundamental assignments like boiling water over a stovetop fire can add to abnormal amounts of vaporous air toxins and suspended particulates, with negative health impacts.
To her group’s astonishment, the measures indoor concentrations were sufficiently high that their touchy instruments should have been recalibrated very quickly.
Vance said, “Even the simple act of making toast raised particle levels far higher than expected. We had to go adjust many of the instruments.”
Joost de Gouw, a CIRES Visiting Professor said, “Indoor and outdoor experts are collaborating to paint a more complete picture of air quality.”
“Many traditional sources like fossil fuel-burning vehicles have become much cleaner than they used to be. Ozone and fine particulates are monitored by the EPA, but data for airborne toxins like formaldehyde and benzene and compounds like alcohols and ketones that originate from the home are very sparse.”
“While de Gouw says that it is too early on in the research to make recommendations on policy or consumer behavior, that it’s encouraging that the scientific community is now thinking about the “esosphere,” derived from the Greek word ‘eso,’ which translates to ‘inner.’”
“There was originally skepticism about whether or not these products actually contributed to air pollution in a meaningful way, but no longer. Moving forward, we need to re-focus research efforts on these sources and give them the same attention we have given to fossil fuels. The picture that we have in our heads about the atmosphere should now include a house.”
The study results are published in the journal Science.