Baseline data: health and comfort in modern office buildings.

Reduction of fresh air ventilation is becoming the major means of energy conservation in office buildings. Simultaneously, health and comfort problems experienced by occupants are often suspected to be a direct result of reduced fresh air ventilation. However, there is little data available on health and comfort problems experienced by occupants of buildings operated under normal ventilation rates.

First-phase occupant reaction to well-sealed indoor environments.

Possible health effects and changes in sensation of comfort among tenants after replacement of single glass windows in leaky frames with double glass windows in airtight frames have been studied. The study design was observational, and included a study group and a corresponding control group. The results indicate essential improvements of the indoor climate and of the health status of the tenants after replacement of the windows (i.e.

Infiltration, energy conservation and indoor air quality.

One option of reducing residential energy consumption is to improve air tightness but adequate ventilation must be provided for health reasons. Sources of infiltration and factors affecting infiltration rates are described, with methods for quantifying and comparing rates. The relationship with air quality is explained and the effect that air quality has on respiration and health. Typical indoor pollutants are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, radon and radon progeny, formaldehyde gas, particulates, tobacco smoke and odours.

Characterization of indoor air quality and "sick buildings"

Notes the increased attention being paid to "sick buildings" of the irritating type. Occupants complain of deteriorated indoor air and subtle medical symptoms that may be related to the indoor air. The problem seems to coincide with energy economising. To evaluate the actual quality of the air in a building it is necessary to conduct field studies with mobile investigation units, taking representative air samples for immediate sensory and chemical analysis.

Sick buildings - a new environmental problem.

Defines "sick buildings" and describes sensory symptoms reported. Both laboratory research and field trials have been carried out, using a mobile environment chamber, gas dosing equipment, an air analysis laboratory and computer systems. Pattern analysis of indoor air samples indicate importance of interrelationship between a large number of chemical substances and several different sensory perceptions. Lists current research.

Case study of a sick building

Demonstrates that complaints by office staff about their physical environment are not necessarily caused by physical deficiencies. Trying to reduce the level of complaints by adjusting heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can therefore be an unrewarding task. Greater attention needs to be placed on - communications between management, those responsible for running HVAC systems and staff. Staff need the feeling that they can influence, if not control, their environment. Staff should also have more realistic expectations about their thermal comfort.

Sick building syndrome

Random samples of the workforces of an air conditioned and naturally ventilated building were interviewed using a doctor administered questionnaire. Large and statistically significant excesses of work-related nasal symptoms, irritation of the eyes, dry throat, headache, dry skin andlethargy were detected in the air conditioned building compared to the naturally ventilated building. In the air conditioned building, over 36% of those interviewed were suffering from a single symptom and few workers were symptom free.

An office environment - problems and improvements

The employees in a large office in Trondheim were complaining about headache, tiredness, sickness, allergic reactions in eye and nose, dry skin, respiratory diseases etc., and as usual they believed that their inconvenience was due tothe ventilating system. However, preliminary investigations did not verify this assumption, although it was evident that the heating and ventilating system was part of the problems. Measures included reduction of room temperature, antistatic treatment of carpets, and replacement of noisy ceiling diffusers.

Mould growth inside buildings

The mould growth inside buildings merits study both in its own right as a natural phenomenon, and because it easily becomes airborne and might pose ahealth problem for certain individuals. The numbers and types of the airborne mycoflora inside buildings depend on air exchange with the outside and the presence of an endogenous mould population. Without intramural mould sources, indoor mould spore levels do, to a major degree, reflect outdoor levels.

The office environment - how dangerous?

During the past few years it has become apparent that office environment problems have reached epidemic proportions. The Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Community Medicine in 1963 was empowered by the State Legisl