Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, June 2019, Volume 2, #63
Instruments are measuring devices used to understand the nature or condition of a situation. The extent to which this objective is achieved depends on the accuracy of the instruments used. Inaccuracy will lead to wrong information. Wrong information will inhibit appropriate human response needed to solve or reduce the effect of poor condition or quality. Machines and human sense organs are instruments used for investigating the quality of indoor air and other environmental parameters.
Nose, an example of human sense organs, is responsible for measuring, smelling, or perceiving indoor air odour. It is useful for providing information about odour concentration (detection threshold), intensity (strength), character (distinguishable property), and hedonic tone (pleasantness and unpleasantness). It indicates the presence of chemical, biological, or particulate substances, which could be dangerous to human health, in the air. In this sense, the nose is a natural defence mechanism that helps identify the hazard on time before they cause harm to the human body. The ineffectiveness of the nose in perceiving odour will increase the vulnerability of exposed human. The vulnerability will increase the risk of suffering from the possible morbidity or mortality consequences associated with contaminants in the air, causing odour.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the human nose to perceive odour diminishes with aging. If elderly people are unable to use their nose to perceive and report their perceived air quality effectively, help may come too late. Lack of or inadequate perception does not be the contaminants in the air will not cause harm. The ineffectiveness is a concern as compromised immunity, due to aging, will make it difficult for the body to fight the danger associated with the air contaminants.
With the growing population of elderly people in the indoor environment, this concern becomes a social problem that requires considerable attention. Built environment professionals should ensure appropriate design, construction, and maintenance and operation of buildings to facilitate healthy indoor air and other building performance mandates for the elderly and other vulnerable building occupants. Building occupants also have a role to play in ensuring they do not comprise the indoor air quality and other building conditions.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Please read Doty (1991), Doty (2017), Doty et al. (1984), and Pinto et al. (2014) papers.