In a study to discover types of indoor air containments that greatly impact the chemistry of workplaces indoor, a significant finding has been made. This study was reportedly conducted inside office spaces of buildings rigged with thousands of sensors. The goal of this study was to identify all types of indoor air contaminants and recommend ways to control them. The study conducted by a team of engineers at Purdue University will also suggest the ways of how a building is designed and operated after identifying the indoor pollutants.
Brandon Boor, an assistant professor of civil engineering with a courtesy appointment in environmental and ecological engineering is working on this study. He stated, “If we want to provide better air quality for office workers to improve their productivity, it is important to first understand what's in the air and what factors influence the emissions and removal of pollutants. The chemistry of indoor air is dynamic. It changes throughout the day based on outdoor conditions, how the ventilation system operates and occupancy patterns in the office”.
Boor added “Our preliminary results suggest that people are the dominant source of volatile organic compounds in a modern office environment. We found levels of many compounds to be 10 to 20 times higher indoors than outdoors. If an office space is not properly ventilated, these volatile compounds may adversely affect worker health and productivity" .
Boor in association with other researchers at RJ Lee Group deployed a highly sensitive 'nose'. This is an instrument that scientists call a proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer. ‘Nose’ is typically used for measuring outdoor air quality. It is equipped to help sniff out compounds in human breath, such as isoprene, in real-time. Boor's team found that isoprene and many other volatile compounds linger in the office even after people have left the room. A greater number of people in a room also mean more emissions of these compounds.
The data collected by the team also shows that ventilation systems greatly impact the chemistry of indoor air. It reiterates that ventilation possibly impacts the indoor air more than anything else in an office space. The team also revealed that a pollutant entering from outside disappears inside. This is because outside pollutant, that is – ozone, interacts with other indoor compounds and the vast surfaces of a furnished office.