Comparing Indoor Air Quality in Newer “Green” Low-Income Housing with Traditional Housing
thesisposted on 09.12.2012, 00:00 by Colin J. Murphy
The construction of green homes is a practice that is becoming commonplace in the United States. Although the energy saving features of green housing are well documented, the health implications associated with indoor air quality in these homes are less well established. We compare the concentrations of CO2, CO, PM2.5, formaldehyde, propene, acrolein, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, benzene, toluene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, vinyl acetate, heptane, ethylbenzene, m/p-xylene, o-xylene, styrene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene and total VOCs from non-smoking homes in two new green low-income housing developments (n=20, n=15) and one old traditional low-income housing development (n=10). These concentrations are then compared to health guidelines such as Minimum Risk Levels. Geometric mean concentrations of CO2, TVOC as hexane, acrolein, methyl ethyl ketone, benzene, and toluene were significantly higher in new development 1 (ND1) than in the old development (OD). Mean concentrations of heptane and combined xylenes were also significantly higher in ND1 than in OD. Mean styrene concentration was higher in new development 2 (ND2) than in OD. Geometric mean concentrations of PM2.5, formaldehyde, and acrolein exceed recommended exposure limits for outdoor air at all three developments and this should be cause for concern, however, the measured levels were not significantly different among the developments. The health impacts of moving into green housing are not simply limited to the contaminants examined in this study. As green building becomes a more common choice for new homes, it is important to consider the possible health impacts of the air in the home. The use and development of building materials that are low in potentially hazardous pollutants is important to ensuring homes are not only energy efficient, but healthy for the occupants as well.