Acoustic systems also impact indoor air quality

Indoor air – part of IEQ

We spend 90% of our time indoors; at home, in offices, schools and many other places. The indoor environment; sometimes referred to as IEQ, has a remarkable effect on our wellbeing. In fact, this blog is dedicated to how room acoustics impact us humans, one aspect of IEQ. Another aspect is the indoor air, which can at times have rather well-known problems associated with negative health effects.

What is causing the problems?

Indoor air contains different impurities. They exist as gases, liquids or solid materials. Sources are many; furniture, construction materials as well as other maybe less obvious sources. Did you know that all of us are emitting impurities from our clothes, skin and respiratory system?

Effects of many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been studied in detail and regulations limit their emissions. For example, formaldehyde is known to cause several health problems, even in low concentrations so it’s wise to avoid or minimise the use of products that contain added formaldehyde. (However, it’s worth noting that there is no such thing as a formaldehyde-free product. There is formaldehyde naturally occurring in everything.)

When choosing acoustic solutions

So whilst you may be focussing on choosing building materials and acoustic systems that reduce noise and make room for working, conversation and listening, it may also be worthwhile to consider the environmental impact of your chosen product, such as the indoor air quality (IAQ). Several third party verified classification schemes are available to help you make an informed decision but they all differ from each other. Two of the toughest for building products, in terms of regulating formaldehyde, are the French VOC and California Emission Regulation Standard (CDPH).

Future study on IAQ

To widen our knowledge of particles in the indoor air, Ecophon Finland is starting a study in partnership with Tampere University of Technology and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The first part  is a literature review of current knowledge concerning particle emissions from construction products and possible health effects of these emissions. The second part includes clarification of processes around how particles release into the indoor air, as well as on-site measurements. Jyrki Kilpikari is responsible for the study which will the basis of his PhD thesis. We look forward to sharing more details with you later on in the project.

Follow Jyrki Kilpikari on Twitter:

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