Problem of Indoor Air Pollution Spreading in U.S

By Edsall, Christopher | THE JOURNAL RECORD, May 5, 1989 | Go to article overview

Problem of Indoor Air Pollution Spreading in U.S


Edsall, Christopher, THE JOURNAL RECORD


pollution is a spreading problem in the United States.

Awareness of this problem is also rising, according to Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, Ph.D.

Shaughnessy will be the keynote speaker and chairman of the Indoor Air Pollution seminar, scheduled for May 8-9 at the Marriott Northwest hotel.

Shaughnessy is chemistry professor and research associate with the University of Tulsa's Division of Continuing Education and Center for Environmental Research and Technology, sponsors of the seminar.

"Public awareness has increased substantially," Shaughnessy said. "People have become aware of the term `sick building syndrome.'

"Builders and property managers are beginning to address the situation, but it's a slow process. . .Since the '70s, energy conservation measures have been incorporated into buildings. Therefore, less outside air is being used, and more synthetic materials are being used.

"There's a communicable void between people that own a building, people that design a building, and people that maintain a building," Shaughnessy said.

The Oklahoma City seminar will help unite the above three groups, he said. The response to the first seminar, in the fall of 1988, was "overwhelming," he said.

Shaughnessy said litigation on indoor air pollution cases are on the upswing, partially because indoor air pollution breeds many side-effects. Among them are increased employee absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased liability for litigation, he said.

"It shortens the lifespan of the building," Shaughnessy said of the sick building syndrome.

Shaughnessy said important things to look at in `sick' buildings include ventilation rates, effluent gases, occupant density, job category, temperature, relative humidity, and age of the building.

"More than 50 percent of sick building syndrome problems can be tracked to inadequate ventilation," Shaughnessy said.

Effluent gases are radiated by photocopiers, printers and carpet shampoos, among other sources, he said.

Many building owners, designers and maintainers are solving indoor air pollution problems, Shaughnessy said. They are improving ventilation rates in their buildings, and using specified building materials which meet safety standards.

Many manufacturers of these materials are also following the standards.

"This will be the selling point of the 1990s," Shaughnessy said.

Other ways in which building owners are "healing" victims of the sick building syndrome are blocking off areas under renovation, because of toxic materials present, and designating "smoking" and "non-smoking" areas.

"Up to 30 percent of all new or remodeled buildings (in the world) may be sick" is a quote by the World Health Organization, Shaughnessy said. He said that percentage is about the same in the United States.

Another indoor air pollution issue is radon. …

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