Publication Date

5-1-2005

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Public Health in Environmental Health

Abstract

In recent decades, concerns about potential health effects resulting from exposure to contaminants that cause indoor air pollution have dramatically increased. The purpose of this study was to assess the indoor air quality of three buildings at Western Kentucky University and to examine and characterize indoor levels of basic comfort parameters, carbon dioxide, and fungi as well as occupants' perceptions of poor indoor air quality and the role of fungi on reported health symptoms. The three buildings included in the study were: Tate Page Hall (TPH), Jones Jagger Hall (JJH) and Science and Technology Hall (STH). Fifty-three questionnaires were completed by faculty and staff in the three buildings. The questionnaires, in addition to a walkthrough inspection and information from the Environmental Health and Safety Director and building coordinators formed the basis for classification of the three buildings (TPH and STH as complaint and JJH as noncomplaint). Comfort parameters, CO2, and fungi were measured indoors at selected offices for approximately five hours each day in summer of 2004. Measurements were also made outdoors for comparison of indoor samples. Airborne samples for viable fungi were collected onto malt Extract Agar using a single-stage Impactor calibrated at a flow rate of 28 liters per minute (L/min) for five minutes. Air samples for non-viable fungi were collected with Air-O-Cell Cassettes using the SKC Bio-Pump at a flow rate of 15L/min for ten minutes. Additionally, bulk samples were collected from areas with visible molds. The fungal samples were sent to two contract and accredited laboratories for analysis. The basic parameters were analyzed using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance. The results of the questionnaires showed response rates of 35 % for STH and TPH, and 30 %, for JJH. The most common indoor air quality (IAQ) complaints were allergies (27%), mold (27%), dust in the air (17%), temperature (13%), lack of airflow or stuffiness (10%), and physical symptoms (7%). The average indoor levels of basic parameters were within the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE's) recommended limits for both complaint buildings. ANOVA results showed that the levels of environmental measurements differed significantly across buildings. Airborne indoor concentrations of fungi were significantly higher than the outdoor in STH and TPH. Whereas JJH had less than 50% indoor fungi compared to outdoor. The most prevalent fungi were Aspergillus, Acremonium Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Yeast. However, certain toxin producing fungi (Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys species) that have been associated with human health effects such as asthma and allergies were isolated from a number of indoor samples at higher levels in the complaint buildings than the non-complaint building. The presence of higher indoor (compare to outdoor) levels and more species of toxigenic fungi would indicate inadequate ventilation and poor indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality resulting from allergic diseases has been associated with increased rate of Absenteeism and reduced productivity. Remedial actions are recommended for improved building design, operation and maintenance with a view to improving indoor air quality, occupants comfort, and public health.

Disciplines

Environmental Health and Protection | Public Health