Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability

Indoor air and health

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are ubiquitous pollutants in both indoor and outdoor air, but information on exposure to these compounds in homes and workplaces is currently limited. Sources of VOCs in the indoor environment are varied and include furnishings, cooking, heating, moulds, and cleaning/personal care products. Diffusion of VOCs from the outdoor environment also occurs. Additional contributors in workplaces and educational settings include printers and photocopiers. Carbon monoxide (CO) is another common pollutant present in indoor air, sources include formation from processes such as cooking and heating, and diffusion from outdoors from traffic emissions. There is evidence that exposure to CO at the levels experience in the indoor environment can cause adverse health effects, although research in the area is also currently lacking.  

Within this project advanced analytical techniques are used to characterise and quantify VOCs and CO concentrations within the indoor environment. This allows sources that contribute to poor air quality to be identified and the exposure potentials of individuals within the environment to be calculated. 

Two studentships are working within this project: one focussed on measuring air quality within the home and its effect on respiratory disease symptoms, and the other measuring emissions from desktop liquid resin bed 3D printers their potential impact on health. Both projects will consider mitigation procedures to reduce personal exposure and how indoor air quality can be improved in both residential and public indoor spaces.  

A two-dimensional gas chromatographic separation of VOCs from a sample of indoor air

Indoor air is a complex mixture of chemicals - two-dimensional gas chromatographic separation of VOCs from a sample of indoor air, where each peak represents a unique VOC detected. 

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