Thursday, June 30, 2011

Green buildings can contribute to poor IAQ: Report

A new Institute of Medicine report says that the recent green building boom may have a negative impact on the average new construction's indoor air quality.

Untested new materials, airtight construction for energy efficiency and other building retrofits could either limit or alter the air flow inside buildings and it could lead to the accumulation of indoor air pollutants such as chemical emissions. Prolonged exposure may cause Sick Building Syndrome and other health effects.

Among the problems outlined in the report were indoor dampness which can lead to active mold growth, poor ventilation, excessive temperatures and emissions from building materials and equipment such as improperly placed back-up power generators.

Government agencies and other organizations are developing and promoting protocols to evaluate emissions from furnishings, building materials, and appliances, but more needs to be done to make prevention of health problems a priority, the report says.

"America is in the midst of a large experiment in which weatherization efforts, retrofits, and other initiatives that affect air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environments are taking place and new building materials and consumer products are being introduced indoors with relatively little consideration as to how they might affect the health of occupants," said committee chair John D. Spengler, from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

"An upfront investment to consider the consequences of these actions before they play out and to avoid problems where they can be anticipated will yield benefits in health and in averted costs of medical care, remediation, and lost productivity."

The report calls for updated building codes and standards for ventilation as well as regular testing.

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View the original article here

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