Indoor Chemistry: Potential exposure to and intake of SVOCs in a crowded space

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, August 2018, Volume 1, #20

Human presence in the indoor environment increases the concentration of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Evidence in the literature suggests that occupants’ intake of SVOCs generated from oxidation of human skin oils (lipids) may cause respiratory and skin irritants, and other health effects. What does this understanding mean in everyday life? People in the crowded indoor environment are potentially vulnerable to being exposed to high concentration of SVOCs. Overcrowding is a common and major housing issue in developing countries. Low-income, high fertility rate, and poor government policies are major contributors to the overcrowding problem. In developed countries, overcrowding is a major concern in public housings. Overcrowding is also a common occurrence in mobile indoor environments such as cars, buses, trains, and airplanes all over the world.

Why should architects, engineers, policy makers and people responsible for delivering energy and the healthy indoor environment pay attention to SVOCs generated from oxidation of human skin oils (lipids)? How should building/indoor environment systems be designed, maintained and operated to reduce exposure and intake of SVOCs generated from oxidation of lipids? A better understanding of the occupants’ risk of exposure and intake of SVOCs – generated due to human presence – in overcrowded indoor environment is essential to have better answer to these questions.

Human Role Indoor Chem_IAC 20

Do you want to know more about this topic? Read De Coster and van Larebeke (2012), Fadeyi (2015), and Weschler (2016) papers.

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