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How does air pollution affect our health?

Air pollution appears to cause or contribute to a variety of health conditions. The effects of air pollution on a person’s health can range from mild breathing difficulties to severe cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and stroke.

Harmful gases and particles in the air come from a range of sources, including exhaust fumes from vehicles, smoke from burning coal or gas, and tobacco smoke.

There are ways to limit the effects of air pollution on health, such as avoiding areas with heavy traffic. However, significant change relies on improvements to air quality on a global scale.

In this article, we discuss how air pollution can affect a person’s health.


What is air pollution?
Air pollution consists of small particles that can be natural or artificial.

The range of possible pollutants means that air pollution can affect people both outdoors and indoors.

Outdoor air pollution consists of:
-particles from burning coal and gas
-harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxides or sulfur dioxide
-tobacco smoke
-ground-level ozone

Indoor air pollution consists of:
-household chemicals
-harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide or radon
-building materials, such as lead or asbestos
-tobacco smoke

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pollutants that pose the highest risk to a person’s health are:

-particulate matter (particle pollutants), which comprises suspended solids and liquid droplets
-nitrogen dioxide
-sulfur dioxide


Short-term exposure
Short-term exposure to air pollution, such as ground-level ozone, can affect the respiratory system because the majority of the pollutants enter the body through a person’s airways.

Short-term exposure to air pollution may lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function. It may also aggravate asthma in people with this condition.

Exposure to sulfur dioxide may cause damage to the eyes and respiratory tract, as well as irritating the skin.


Long-term exposure
Research into the long-term health problems that air pollution can cause is ongoing. Research has linked air pollution to serious health problems, adverse birth outcomes, and even premature death.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Exposure to particle pollutants may cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the WHO, air pollution causes 43% of COPD cases and deaths worldwide.

COPD is a group of diseases that cause breathing-related difficulties, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases block the airways and make it difficult for a person to breathe.

There is no cure for COPD, but treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Lung cancer
According to the WHO, air pollution causes 29% of all lung cancer cases and deaths.

Particle pollutants are likely to contribute to this figure significantly as their small size allows them to reach the lower respiratory tract.

Cardiovascular disease
Research shows that living in an area with higher levels of air pollution may increase the risk of death from stroke. Air pollution may trigger stroke and heart attacks.

A 2018 review notes that the Global Burden of Disease Study estimated air pollution to be responsible for 19% of cardiovascular deaths in 2015. It was also the cause of about 21% of deaths due to stroke and 24% of deaths from coronary heart disease.

Preterm delivery
According to research that featured in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exposure to polluted air can make pregnant women more likely to experience preterm delivery.

The researchers found that the chance of preterm delivery lessened with decreased exposure.



Health effects from specific pollutants
According to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, outdoor air pollution is a carcinogen, meaning that it may cause cancer.

Polluted air contains separate particles and chemicals, each of which has a different effect on health.


Particle pollutants
Particle pollutants consist of a combination of different particles in the air.

Due to the small size of these particles, they can reach the lungs and raise the risk of lung and heart disease.

They may also cause a worsening of symptoms in people with asthma.


Ground-level ozone
Pollutants react with sunlight to create ground-level ozone. Smog consists largely of ozone and is a key trigger of asthma symptoms.


Carbon monoxide
According to a 2016 article, if the levels of carbon monoxide are lower than 2%, this gas does not appear to affect a person’s health.

However, if the levels are higher than 40%, carbon monoxide may be fatal.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:
-chest pain
-a headache

If a person suspects that they are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, they should move to an area with fresh air and seek immediate medical help.


Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

It can cause eye irritation and make a person more vulnerable to developing respiratory tract infections, as well as cardiovascular disease.


Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is present in vehicle exhaust emissions. Gas and kerosene heaters and stoves also produce large amounts of this gas.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide may lead to respiratory infections. Typically, inhaling nitrogen dioxide causes wheezing or coughing, but it may also lead to headaches, throat irritation, chest pain, and fever.

How can we reduce exposure?
People can reduce their exposure to air pollutants by limiting the amount of time that they spend in areas with poor air quality. It is important to be aware of possible air pollutants both outdoors and indoors.


Outdoor air pollution
Governments, businesses, and individuals can all help in minimizing air pollution. Reducing emissions from vehicles and the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere may improve the quality of the air.

A person can also check the current air quality by using the AirNow website. This government service monitors air quality across the United States.

The site provides information on air pollution levels, which it color codes according to their potential effect on health. If the rating is orange or above, people can help protect their health by:

-avoiding walking beside busy roads
-exercising for less time outdoors or using an indoor venue instead
-staying indoors until air quality improves


Indoor air pollution
A person can reduce indoor air pollution by ensuring that buildings are clean and ventilated.

Dust, mold, and pollen may all increase the risk of respiratory problems.

Radon gas can build up in homes that developers built on land that has uranium deposits. Radon gas can cause lung cancer.

A person can check for radon in the home by using a radon test kit. Alternatively, they can hire a professional to take this measurement for them.

Radon test kits are available to purchase in stores and online.

A person can use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the carbon monoxide levels in their home or workplace.

Carbon monoxide detectors are available to purchase in stores and online.


Air pollution can be harmful to a person’s health. It may cause respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

A person can reduce the likelihood of health problems by checking the air quality in their local areas and being aware of any existing health conditions.

Carbon monoxide can be fatal. If a person thinks that they have carbon monoxide poisoning, they should get into fresh air and seek medical help immediately.


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The pollution within: Indoor air quality can affect health

Come the festive season and the media are full of stories on the drastic air pollution that envelops our cities, especially the capital. The smog is a deadly cocktail of dust, vehicle exhaust, and smoke from the surrounding countryside where farmers set fire to stubble in their fields to prepare for the next crop. Meanwhile, not much attention is paid to the quality of air inside offices, residential complexes, schools, hospitals where people spend the bulk of their day.

Recent studies have shown that poor indoor air quality can have a deleterious impact on a person’s physical and psychological wellness.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the nature of the conditioned (Heat/Cool) air that circulates throughout space/area where we work and live i.e. the air we breathe during most of our lives.

With research clearly indicating that we spend 90 % of our time indoors and the growing scientific evidence that the air indoor is almost 10 to 100 times more polluted than outside, the risk to health is much greater indoors than outdoors. As we spend more and more time indoors ,mostly in centrally conditioned spaces like our offices,commercial areas ,etc . it is important to pay attention to the quality of conditioned air inside ,

Sources of indoor pollution include particulate matter such as dust and various physical impurities as also complex organic emissions from electrical and electronic equipment, paints, varnishes, chemicals from cleaning agents. Unattended, indoor air pollution can affect the productivity of the occupants in an enclosed conditioned space.

In India, traditional buildings were pretty much open to the environment, which was nowhere near as polluted as it is today. However, as the economy picked up with reforms and liberalization, the need arose for modern climate-controlled interiors; additionally, enlightened government regulations began to specify standards of occupational health and safety for residences, offices, institutions

As outdoor air quality began to dominate public debate, the need for monitoring and handling pollution became paramount. Interestingly, attention also has turned to the management and control of interior environments. Indoor conditioned spaces can broadly be segmented as residential and commercial. In the residential spaces, people are purchasing stand-alone small air purifiers to combat air pollution indoors. However, most of us spend long ours at our offices and other such spaces and thus, it very important to have a centrally managed air purifier in such places as it is not only the outdoor air which is polluted but the indoor air adds to pollutants as large number of people and equipment are working indoors and each contributing to contaminants.

Thus, the most important aspect of the focus on the indoors was the realization that systems design needed to go beyond merely cooling to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Often known by its acronym, HVAC goes beyond providing thermal comfort to ensuring acceptable indoor air quality.

HVAC systems use desiccant technology, which is the key to energy saving and filtering out the contaminates. Energy saving is achieved by recovering the waste energy for conditioning systems to precondition the outdoor air coming in through the conditioning systems and the air purification is through centralized air purification systems working in sync or integrated with whole HVAC systems. One of the major benefits of technology is the reduction in tonnage required for a given space with a concomitant reduction in the use of energy and utility costs. As such, it fits the bill as a sustainable green technology that incorporates a concern of climate change, a crucial new awareness that seeks to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, that is responsible for the phenomenon known as global warming.

Global warming, used interchangeably with climate change, refers to rise over time in the average temperatures caused mainly by human activities including industrialization, transportation, and consumption. Effects of global warming include changes in precipitation patterns, rise in sea levels, extreme weather including droughts, floods, wildfires, and famines.

Apart from setting up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, political leaders of more than a hundred nations have come together to mull a long term response to this looming disaster. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, representatives of 196 state entities met in Paris December 2018 to adopt measures to mitigate the impact of global warming. Called the Paris Agreement, the pact seeks to limit the rise in global average temperatures to below two degrees Celsius. Plus each participant has agreed to a set of specific country goals.

The adaptation and financing of measures to mitigate the adverse effect of climate change is truly remarkable. They have devolved not just to specific nations but further, to industrial sectors and services. The effort to control indoor air quality is a small but vital part of the global effort to combat the disruptions of climate change.

It is a matter of pride for us that today India is providing stand alone as well as fully integrated conditioning systems with energy recovery and air purification systems with the most concurrent technologies available worldwide not only in India but also, worldwide including the developed world.




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40% of U.S workers have taken a day off because of air quality, study says

A study has revealed that poor indoor air quality has serious consequences on office workers’ well-being, including a lack of focus and ill health.

Despite many employers not considering the impact that indoor air quality has on their employees, the study, which was commissioned by Ambius, an interior landscape organisation, reveals that one in two office workers in the U.S. has experienced a lack of focus due to poor air quality.

According to the study, 40% of workers have had to take a day off because of poor air quality.

The most commonly experienced indicators or poor indoor air quality include poor air circulation, excessive dust and a smell of chemicals.

With increasing outdoor air quality concerns, the study has revealed that many office workers are choosing to spend more time indoors, with two out of three workers in the US choosing to have their lunch inside due to the air pollution surrounding their office.

With over half (56%) of workers in Canada and almost a third (32%) of workers in the US spending over 8 hours a day in the office, it is important that employees take initiative to improve indoor air quality.

Four out of five respondents in the US agreed that it is their employee’s responsibility to improve air quality, however, over a quarter of office workers were unaware if their employers are actually doing so.

Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius said: ‘With workers spending so much time indoors, it is imperative that businesses are aware of ways to create indoor environments that can positively impact the health and well-being of employees, and that includes air quality.’

‘Bringing elements of nature into the workplace has positive effects on performance, including increases in productivity, job satisfaction, creativity and a greater sense of well-being.’

Ambius have said that office design should produce a space where employees can work comfortably to produce the best possible work and increase the overall well-being of office workers.



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Quantifying the Health Impacts of Indoor Particulate Matter

Understanding the human exposome of the indoor environment will place building professionals in the very center of medical and public health work.

FIGURE 1. Critical components of the built environment exposome include physical, chemical, and microbial exposures from highly interrelated components, such as water, air, and surfaces. Image courtesy of Dai, D. et al. Factors Shaping the Human Exposome in the Built Environment: Opportunities for Engineering Control. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, 51, 7759−7774.

Evidence directly tying the indoor environment to states of health or disease continues to emerge. The relationship between indoor air quality (IAQ) and a wide range of disorders such as infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even cancer is becoming increasingly clear.

Why is this connection coming into focus now? Perhaps it’s because computerized health records allow more comprehensive analysis of disease trends, or HVAC monitoring systems preserve records of IAQ patterns in commercial buildings. Another new set of tools that have dramatically expanded our understanding of the effect of the built environment on our health is the rapid gene sequencing techniques known as metagenomics. These tools have revealed large, diverse, and dynamic communities of bacteria, viruses, and fungi living in and on our bodies. These microbial communities, known as our microbiomes, are our intimate partners and govern almost every aspect of our health. They also respond to conditions in their environment, which is often the same building occupied by humans.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution caused more than 7 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Of all the air pollutants known to be harmful to our health, fine particulate matter (PM) with diameters of 2.5 microns and smaller is causing the most widespread disease.

The lung is the organ most directly and obviously impacted by inhalation of PM. Fine PM hastens the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and lung cancer. Pathology is caused by cascading mechanisms of disease, and once a lung is damaged, it’s very hard to recover full pulmonary function. Beyond the lungs, airborne PM triggers heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, and even disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our digestive system is affected when inhaled PM is cleared from our airways and then swallowed. A person living in urban North America ingests approximately 10^12-10^14 inhaled particles per day. High PM levels are associated with IBD due to changes such as increased gut permeability, decreased colon motility, and alterations in the gut microbiome. In fact, these particles are classified as Group 1 carcinogens because they can trigger the growth of deadly cancers.

Questions such as which airborne particles most easily enter the human respiratory system, how likely it is that inhaled particles may reach the lung, how rapidly they are cleared, and how retained particles will affect the host have been the topics of pulmonology research and treatment. These same questions are now important considerations for the engineer or building manager who chooses and operates HVAC systems.

The best metrics to guide HVAC design would include PM levels generated by indoor activities as well as infiltration of outdoor particles. Unfortunately, this information is very hard to collect because of variations in indoor generation. Consequently, the air pollution measurements that establish HVAC design parameters for filtration and ventilation rates in a given locale come largely from outdoor monitoring.

While outdoor conditions are a good starting point, they do not reflect the most important exposure — that of the indoor environment. Studies in air toxicology show that indoor and outdoor levels of air pollutants can vary widely depending on the compound and the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity conditions. This disconnect is reflected in hospital statistics, where the increase in hospital admissions for respiratory disease per 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in outdoor PM2.5 was smaller in the Southwestern U.S. than in the Northeast.

Given the current difficulty in gathering data on indoor exposure to PM, using outdoor data is our only choice. Thankfully, however, on the horizon are small, personal, wearable monitoring devices that will offer more specific information regarding the chemical pollutants, PM size and concentration, and microbial content of the air we breathe and ingest. Understanding the human exposome of the indoor environment will place building professionals in the very center of medical and public health work.

Now that research is clarifying the connection between the indoor environment and our health, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to rethink how we design and operate our buildings.


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How Indoor Air Quality Impacts Our Psychological Development

Mechanical Engineers Are Now Mental Health Professionals

Once again, research has revealed an entire new dimension of the role of indoor air quality in determining human health. This new awareness dramatically expands the consequences of a mechanical engineer’s work. As you design and size HVAC systems for a building, think about this: The resulting indoor climate will shape the mental state of the occupants, influencing their moods, thinking abilities, and even their attraction to sexual partners. This means that your job description now includes mental health care.

How can this be? Most of us will agree that our moods are influenced, to some degree, by how healthy and energetic our bodies feel. We now know that each of us are intimately connected to trillions of microorganisms in ecosystems called our microbiomes. In fact, the number of microbes in our individual microbiomes vastly exceed the number of our human cells. Our personal microbiome is a unique and changing population of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on our skin, in our orifices and digestive tracts, and even insert their genes into our sperm or eggs to be passed onto our children.

Research tools that continue to shed light on our relationship with microbes were widely used in sequencing the human genome. Generally known as metagenomics, the techniques have resulted in data that clearly indicates that most microbes are essential and beneficial to our normal, day-to-day functioning. What is additionally surprising is the awareness that bacteria in our microbiomes shapes our moods, thinking, relationships, and psychological development.

This connection between our microbes and our brains seems to be a result of chemical messengers released from bacteria residing in our digestive systems. These messengers travel to our brains, exerting powerful influences on almost every aspect of the human experience.

The human gut contains approximately 2 pounds of living bacteria, which produce chemicals that trigger neurologic activity in our brains, resulting in regulation of our feelings, ability to think and remember events, and even our fundamental patterns of social interactions. Gut microbes are even related to disorders of cognitive functioning and social interaction, such as autism. Most of us can relate to the power of our gut-brain connection when we think back to a time when our intestines where roiling just prior to taking an important exam.

Our exposure to microbes starts during the birth process when we are either colonized with bacteria from our mother or from the caesarian section room. These colonies are then shaped by our ingestion of microbes from food or probiotics; from unintentional exposure, such as through inhaling microbes in the airborne environment; and by the microbe deaths resulting from antibiotics or surface disinfection solutions. The unique community of microbes in each room of a building is determined by which microbes survive and flourish in each individual space. The elements that microbes respond to in indoor spaces are surface materials, indoor temperature and humidity, radiation from light, and other physical forces that continue to be revealed by ongoing research.

We now know that choices about ventilation unintentionally shape indoor microbial ecosystems. For example, mechanical ventilation leads to significantly different airborne bacterial communities in patient rooms and classrooms when compared to natural ventilation. Spaces with low water vapor (humidity) that are mechanically ventilated have less bacterial diversity and a greater number of pathogens.

IAQ shapes our moods far beyond the effects of daylighting, views of nature, and colors. Building microbes selected by indoor ventilation become part of our microbiomes, exerting powerful forces on our gut-brain axis and triggering feelings of happiness, sadness, or mental illnesses.

In this way, mechanical engineers have become mental health professionals for all those who occupy the buildings.



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Mercedes-Benz agrees to massive settlement after mold found growing in HVAC systems

More than 2.5 million Mercedes-Benz owners will soon be getting help with the nasty smells that can come from their cars’ air conditioning units.

For more than two years, WSB-TV has reported on the issue: luxury cars with an embarrassing problem.

Mold grows in the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system for various models of Mercedes vehicles, and it leads to odors.


Mercedes owner Ketan Patel called it “a pungent, mildew, sweaty, moldy, sweat sock smell.” He’s also an attorney. He filed the class-action lawsuit along with co-counsel.

Now, Mercedes-Benz has agreed to a class-action settlement. More than 2.5 million vehicles nationwide are covered by it.

The deal is not capped, meaning Mercedes will pay the full amount owed and continue to make repairs for every car owner, regardless of how much it ends up costing.

Attorney Annika Martin represents car owners in the class-action suit.”It provides relief for all the money they’ve had to pay to deal with this, because it wasn’t covered under warranty,” Martin told WSB-TV. “It also basically provides a warranty coverage up to the 10-year birthday of the car to deal with it in the future if it is necessary, and I think that’s a big win.”

Mercedes and the attorneys for the class have both agreed to this deal. A federal judge will have to sign off to make it official.

Then every car owner covered by the agreement will get a notice in the mail about how to sign up for repairs or to receive money owed.

The proposed settlement class is defined as a nationwide class of all current and former owners and lessees of Mercedes-Benz 2008-19 C-Class, 2010-15 GLK Class, 2012-17 CLS-Class, 2010-19 E-Class, 2015-19 GLA-Class, 2013-16 GL Class, 2016-19 GLE-Class, 2017-19 GLS-Class, 2012-15 M-Class and 2016-19 GLC-Class vehicles who purchased or leased their vehicles in the United States.


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Estudo de caso de monitoramento da qualidade do ar interno

Você sabe a importância de fazer análise periódica da qualidade do ar interno climatizado?

Nesse artigo apresentamos um estudo de caso de um edifício comercial localizado na Zona Sul de São Paulo, onde as análises da qualidade do ar interno realizadas semestrais conforme definido na Resolução 09 de 16 de janeiro de 2003 da ANVISA – Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária, ajudaram na solução de um problema ambiental que não havia sido diagnosticado no dia a dia a operação predial.

Estamos falando de um edifício comercial de alto padrão, categoria “Triple A”, de 28.359m² com 15 pavimentos de escritórios, com lajes de 2.067 e 2.130m². Com 05 anos de uso, multiuso, projeto edifício é pré-certificado nível Gold com o selo “LEED® for Core & Shell”. Possui ainda 04 subsolos de estacionamento.

Em uma rotina de amostragem da qualidade do ar interno, a equipe de manutenção predial observou pelo 2º semestre consecutivo resultados de medição de dióxido de carbono (CO2) acima do limite de 1.000 ppm definido da Resolução 09 da ANVISA. Esse fato ocorreu em 76% dos ambientes avaliados.

Normalmente excesso de CO2 está relacionado a ineficiente renovação do ar interno em relação ao número de pessoas no local.

A primeira hipótese analisada era se as tomadas de ar externo do sistema de climatização estavam aberta no momento das amostragens. Essa situação foi confirmada, inclusive pois o edifício é dotado de sistema de automação com sensor de CO2 para abertura em caso de valores acima dos limites. Os dados mostravam que o sistema de renovação de ar estavam trabalhando constantemente 100% abertos. 

Se não era um problema de tomada de ar externo fechado, foi analisada uma 2ª hipótese em relação ao número de pessoas presentes nos locais avaliados. Foi identificado que em 02 pavimentos, a população fixa estava acima do estabelecido na convenção do condomínio.

Mesmo com essa situação verificada, o número de pavimentos com não conformidade era bem superior ao número de pavimentos com excesso de pessoas. Ou seja, não era esse o fator preponderante na contaminação ambiental do edifício. 

Com o auxílio de um equipamento portátil de medição de CO2, nos dirigimos a sala de máquina localizada na cobertura do prédio, verificar o comportamento do nível de dióxido de carbono ao longo do sistema de climatização. 

Já nas primeiras medições feitas, dentro da sala de máquinas, na face interna da tomada de ar externo (dentro da edificação), o nível de CO2 apresentou resultado acima do esperado, em torno de 700 ppm. Sabemos que o ar atmosférico oscila na faixa de 400 a 600 ppm, ou seja, ter um ar de entrada no prédio acima de 700 mostrava que tinha algo errado. A próxima medição (Foto 1) foi feita na face externa da tomada de ar externo, ao ar livre na cobertura do prédio. E o resultado obtido de CO2 foi muito similar a medição realizada internamente. 


Foto 1 – Medição face externa da T.A.E
Foto 2 -Medição de CO2 ao ar livre


A 3ª medição (Foto 2) foi realizada também ao ar livre na cobertura do prédio, cerca de 4 metros afastado da tomada de ar externo. O resultado obtido foi dentro do esperado para um ambiente ao ar livre em torno de 400 ppm de CO2

Ou seja, havia alguma fonte de contaminação perto da fachada do prédio que aumentava em muito o nível de dióxido de carbono na captação do ar exterior. 

Foi observado o entorno da fachada do prédio à procura de alguma fonte de poluição que estivesse gerando esse incremento de CO2 naquela região. 

Logo foi observada a descarga de ar do duto proveniente da roda entalpica, sistema de recuperação de energia (Ilustração 01), que faz a exaustão do ar interno com a insuflação de ar novo, com objetivo de reduzir o consumo de energia do sistema de climatização.

Ilustração 01 – Roda Entalpica

Como era de se esperar, a medição no nível de CO2 na saída da exaustão do sistema de recuperação de energia era elevado, em torno de 900 ppm. Estava assim identificada a origem da fonte poluente. 

Na fachada do edifício, onde se encontra a captação de ar externo do sistema de climatização, criava-se uma zona de ar contaminado (Foto 03), com alta concentração de dióxido de carbono e provavelmente outros contaminantes que não estavam sendo monitorados.



A solução indicada para esse sistema é a captação do ar externo em ponto distinto daquele local. Foi recomendada a contratação de um consultor em sistemas de climatização para fazer um projeto do melhor local. Enquanto esse novo sistema de captação de ar não for instalado, foi recomendado desligar o sistema de recuperação de energia. O impacto financeiro na produtividade das pessoas das empresas, devido à baixa qualidade do ar interno, está sendo muito superior a economia de energia elétrica obtida. 

Foto 03 – Zona de ar contaminado


A população daquele local, estimada em 25.000 pessoas, estava respirando um ar de baixa qualidade, gerando perda de produtividade, aumento de absenteísmo e custas médicas. 

Essa situação só foi descoberta com a existência das análises rotineiras da qualidade do ar interno, conforme determinado pela Resolução da ANVISA. Como não conseguimos ver o ar que respiramos, essa abordagem da ANVISA de análises periódicas é fundamental para redução de riscos à saúde da população. 

Outra abordagem seria as edificações de uso público e coletivo terem um plano de segurança da qualidade do ar interno, onde seriam avaliados os riscos, elaborados planos de ação e acompanhamento para verificação do ar interno. Recentemente foi publicada norma de qualidade ISO 16:000-40 de gestão da qualidade do ar interno, abordando exatamente essa solução. 


Artigo elaborado por Leonardo Cozac, engenheiro civil e segurança do trabalho, consultor com certificado internacional especialista em qualidade do ar interno.

Sócio Diretor da Conforlab Engenharia Ambiental.


Estudo de caso de monitoramento da qualidade do ar interno


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This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season

Harvard Medical School graduate and lecturer, Stephanie Taylor, is something of an Indiana Jones of medicine. She’s a determined scientist who can’t seem to sit still. Along with a resume full of accolades and publications, she’s a skydiver with 1,200 jumps. She solves haunting medical mysteries. “Anything that seems scary, I say I need to learn more about that,” she explained in a recent interview.

Picornavirus (picornavirid), responsible for: Colds, gastroenteritis, poliomyelitis and meningitis. Image made from a transmission electron microscopy view. (Photo by: Cavallini James/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP VIA GETTY IMAGES

While practicing pediatric oncology at a major teaching hospital, Taylor wondered why so many of her young patients came down with infections and the flu, despite the hospital’s herculean efforts at prevention. Her hunch: the design and infrastructure of the building contributed somehow.

Dr. Taylor embarked on a quest to find out if she was right. First, the skydiving doctor made a career jump: She went back to school for a master’s in architecture, and then began research on the impact of the built environment on human health and infection. Ultimately, she found a lost ark.

She and colleagues studied 370 patients in one unit of a hospital to try to isolate the factors associated with patient infections. They tested and retested 8 million data points controlling for every variable they could think of to explain the likelihood of infection. Was it hand hygiene, fragility of the patients, or room cleaning procedures? Taylor thought it might have something to do with the number of visitors to the patient’s room.

While all those factors had modest influence, one factor stood out above them all, and it shocked the research team. The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air. At low relative humidity, indoor air was strongly associated with higher infection rates. “When we dry the air out, droplets and skin flakes carrying viruses and bacteria are launched into the air, traveling far and over long periods of time. The microbes that survive this launching tend to be the ones that cause healthcare-associated infections,” said Taylor. “Even worse, in addition to this increased exposure to infectious particles, the dry air also harms our natural immune barriers which protect us from infections.”

Since that study was published, there is now more research in peer-reviewed literature observing a link between dry air and viral infections, such as the flu, colds and measles, as well as many bacterial infections, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding more research. Taylor finds one of the most interesting studies from a team at the Mayo Clinic, which humidified half of the classrooms in a preschool and left the other half alone over three months during the winter. Influenza-related absenteeism in the humidified classrooms was two-thirds lower than in the standard classrooms—a dramatic difference. Taylor says this study is important because its design included a control group: the half of classrooms without humidity-related intervention.

Scientists attribute the influence of dry air to a new understanding about the behavior of airborne particles, or “infectious aerosol transmissions.” They used to assume the microbes in desiccated droplets were dead, but advances in the past several years changed that thinking. “With new genetic analysis tools, we are finding out that most of the microbes are not dead at all. They are simply dormant while waiting for a source of rehydration,” Taylor explained. “Humans are an ideal source of hydration, since we are basically 60% water. When a tiny infectious particle lands on or in a patient, the pathogen rehydrates and begins the infectious cycle all over again.”

These findings are especially important for hospitals and other health settings, because dry air is also associated with antibiotic resistance, which can devastate whole patient populations. Scientists now believe resistant organisms do not develop only along the Darwinian trajectory, where mutated bacteria produce a new generation of similarly mutated offspring that can survive existing antibiotics. Resistant pathogens in infectious aerosols do not need to wait for the next generation, they can instantly share their resistant genes directly through a process called horizontal gene transfer.

According to her research, and subsequent studies in the medical literature, the “sweet spot” for indoor air is between 40% and 60% relative humidity. An instrument called a hygrometer, available for about $10, will measure it. Every hospital, school, and home should have them, according to Taylor, along with a humidifier to adjust room hydration to the sweet spot.

Operating rooms, Taylor notes, are often kept cooler than other rooms to keep gown-wearing surgical staff comfortable. Cool air holds less water vapor than warm air, so condensation can more easily occur on cold, uninsulated surfaces. Consequently, building managers often turn humidifiers off instead of insulating cold surfaces. This quick fix can result in dry air, and Taylor urges hospitals to bring the operating room’s relative humidity up, even when it is necessary, to maintain a lower temperature. Taylor’s research suggests this reduces surgical site infections.

Taylor travels the country speaking with health care and business groups to urge adoption of the 40%–60% relative humidity standard. And she practices what she preaches. “My husband has ongoing respiratory problems and had at least one serious illness each winter. Ever since we started monitoring our indoor relative humidity and keeping it around 40%, even when using our wood stove, he has not been sick. Our dogs also love it because they do not get static electricity shocks when being petted in the wintertime!”

The bad news is that it takes on average of 17 years for scientific evidence to be put into medical practice, according to a classic study. The good news is that Taylor is on the case, and she’s on a crusade against the destruction of bacteria and viruses. She’s not waiting 17 years. Jock, start the engine.

Fonte: Forbes

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Entrevista Leonardo Cozac – É preciso aumentar a conscientização

É preciso aumentar a conscientização

Entrevista: Leonardo Cozac

A preocupação com o tema da qualidade do ar interior é um dos mais atuais e presentes temas no segmento, porém é preciso levar essa questão de forma mais ampla para toda sociedade. A Revista ASBRAV conversou com uma das maiores autoridades nacionais no assunto, Leonardo Cozac, que é Engenheiro Civil e de Segurança do Trabalho.Revista ASBRAV – Que fatores você considera que são mais graves em relação ao tema da qualidade do interior?

Leonardo Cozac- Considero a falta de conhecimento da população ainda um fator muito preocupante. De uma maneira geral, a população não se preocupa com o ar que respira. Fazendo uma comparação com a água, aprendemos na escola básica que a água que consumimos deve ser sem cheiro, sem cor e sem gosto. E ninguém bebe ou utiliza uma agua que não conheça sua procedência. Já com o ar respiramos o ar que nos é fornecido sem nos preocupar se é de qualidade ou não. Quando um pai vai conhecer a nova escola dos filhos será que questiona se a QAI dentro da escola é boa? Então porque é tão comum uma criança ficar gripada, por exemplo, e na sequencia vários colegas de classe ficarem também? No shopping que frequentamos, antes de ir pensamos se a QAI lá é adequada para nossa família? De uma maneira geral a sociedade não pensa nisso, partindo do princípio se o ambiente está refrigerado, está bom. O que não é uma verdade simples.

Fazendo uma comparação com EUA, por exemplo, vende-se filtro de ar condicionado em prateleira de supermercado. Não precisa de norma ou lei para obrigar as pessoas comprarem filtros para sua casa. Já existe a consciência da importância desse elemento para melhorar a QAI.

Revista ASBRAV – Quais os principais desafios para levar a todos os setores da sociedade o tema da implantação do PMOC?

Leonardo Cozac- Por muitos anos a sociedade consome ar condicionado com objetivo de melhorar o conforto térmico. Se a temperatura está agradável, o ambiente está bom. Com isso, profissionais do setor se especializaram nesse aspecto técnico. De cerca de 20 anos para cá, após a publicação da Portaria 3523/98 pelo Ministério da Saúde, que o conceito de PMOC/ QAI ganhou importância. Considero nosso maior desafio os profissionais do setor (engenheiros, arquitetos e técnicos) levarem esse conscientização sobre QAI a sociedade. Esses profissionais trabalharam anos sem esse conceito. As escolas técnicas e de curso superior ainda não abordam de forma adequada esse tema. Os profissionais do setor devem ser os agentes de disseminação a sociedade da importância sobre a qualidade do ar interno.

Revista ASBRAV – Acredita que profissionais que se envolvem nos modelos construtivos como engenheiros e arquitetos estejam já conscientes da importância deste tema dentro dos projetos ou ainda há muito a ser feito?

Leonardo Cozac- Sem dúvidas esses profissionais já tem a consciência sobre a importância do tema de QAI. Porém ainda há desafio de conseguir conscientizar ao empreendedor/ investidor que vale a pena investir em um bom projeto. Diversos estudos internacionais mostram que uma boa qualidade do ar interno garante aumento de produtividade, redução de custas médicas e do absenteísmo nas empresas e escolas.

Como em diversos edifícios comerciais o maior custo das empresas é o salário de seus funcionários, o retorno sobre investimento em QAI é muito rápido. Levar essa informação ao consumidor considero ainda uma grande desafio.

Leonardo Cozac

Engenheiro Civil e de Segurança do Trabalho formado pela Universidade Paulista. Membro do Grupo Setorial de Qualidade do Ar Interno, em 97/98.

Participante do Green Building Council – Divisão Qualidade do Ar de Interiores.

Professor convidado de Pós Graduação do Mackenzie. Professor do curso de MBA Arquitetura, Construção e Gestão Sustentável.

Presidente do Qualindoor – Departamento nacional de Qualidade do Ar de Interiores da ABRAVA – Gestão 2008-2010 e 2013-2015. Vice-Presidente de Economia – Gestão 2013-2015 da ABRAVA. Consultor Certificado de Qualidade do Ar de Interior pela ACAC – American Council for Accredited Certification.

Presidente da Conforlab Engenharia Ambiental.


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