Indoor Air Pollution Problems Ignored by Building Owners

Article excerpt

Reporter Many building owners are "just not paying attention" to indoor air pollution problems, according to Hal Levin, a speaker at the Indoor Air Pollution Seminar at the Marriott Hotel Tuesday.

The conference was sponsored by the Division of Continuing Education and Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of Tulsa.

"Most indoor air quality problems can be avoided or solved by common sense and informed consideration," said Levin.

Levin is president of Hal Levin and Associates, Santa Cruz, Calif. His firm performs air quality investigations in buildings, and provides consultation on building design and renovation.

Levin's two-hour presentation entitled "Prevention and Control of Indoor Air Quality Problems," focused on design, operation and maintenance of buildings.

Levin extrapolated the concept of ecosystems used in the field of ecology. He said humans also have "ecosystems", that is, their working environments.

"Controlling the sources of indoor air pollution is our first line of defense," Levin said. "Keeping them (noxious substances) out of the buildings in the first place is much easier than getting rid of them once they're inside the buildings."

The place to start looking for potential air quality problems is in the conceptual design stage, Levin said.

Beyond this construction phase, ventilation is a key area on which to concentrate.

Levin said ventilation requirements building designers and owners should study are, in order of importance: occupancy, pollutant levels, thermal requirements and individual climate preferences of employees.

Pollutant levels are determined by "occupancy-related activities," Levin said.

"It would be foolish to think that all people would like the same kind of climate," he said of climate control.

Researchers at the University of Kansas have discovered that people differ in climate preference. Because of these differences, the only way to satisfy each employee's climate preference is to "localize and individualize climate control," Levin said. …