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Indoor Atmospheric Chemistry: An Emerging Global Concern TEXT SIZE: A A A

Sasho Gligorovski from Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry and his colleague Jon Abbatt from University of Toronto published a perspective article entitled as “An Indoor Chemical Cocktail” in “Science” giving an overview about the chemistry occurring in our dwellings which may affect the human health. The main parameters that influence this chemistry are highlighted: human activities (cleaning, cooking), human occupancy, outdoor pollution and sunlight.

The building science research community has largely been dominated by one dominant view:  What are the chemical emissions of building and furnishing materials, and what is the ventilation rate to remove these pollutants?  Indeed concerns about indoor formaldehyde and radon have been addressed for decades.  However, it is only in the past few years that it has become apparent that our indoor environment should be viewed as a highly complex, coupled chemical system, driven by not only emissions and ventilation but also by a rich set of chemical transformations.  Undoubtedly some of this chemistry is beneficial to our health by cleaning the air of toxic pollutants, whereas other processes may be making these pollutants more toxic still.  Just as the outdoor atmospheric chemistry community has focused in recent years on developing an understanding of specific environments, such as forests or Polar Regions, it is just now starting to address the environment in which we live 90% of our time.

In this manner this Perspective article will inform the readers of research questions of direct relevance to their lives. It also points out that this complex chemistry will become even more important as we live more and more of our lives indoors, i.e. increased indoor exposure will arise as societies industrialize, and as we live in tighter homes, air condition more, and protect ourselves from outdoor air pollution.



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