Research for Indoor Air Quality helps improve the safety of buildings and the construction behind the ventilation systems.
Read more below about the research behind engineering safer buildings for the future.
A Purdue professor is researching how better indoor air quality will improve the construction of buildings and their ventilation systems. According to Brandon Boor, an assistant professor in civil engineering, a lot of people measure pollutants and other health risks in the air outdoors but not as much indoors. “You spend 90 percent of your time inside buildings, so your exposure to air pollution (of) both indoor and outdoor origin occurs primarily inside (buildings),” he said.
Boor is part of an architectural group with the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, along with Robert Jacko, a professor in the same department. Jacko agreed with Boor, also adding that it’s important that “a significant design effort is put into the location and height of any vents or stacks on the roof of a building to prevent aerodynamic crosstalk between the pollutants exiting an exhaust vent and the fresh air intakes as well as the return air filtering process and hardware that is placed in the air delivery system in a building.” Boor started his research at University of Texas at Austin, where he observed how our sleeping patterns affect the indoor air quality in our own homes. To achieve this, he conducted experiments using different mattresses while factoring in, for example, how they were made and what chemical compounds were then dispensed into the air. Some examples of the chemical compounds he looked at were volatile organic compounds and flame retardants.
“We do spend 90 percent of our time at home, but 30 percent of that is spent sleeping,” Boor said. “The mattress is an accumulation zone for a lot of material coming from the human body and allergen particles, not just dust mites … Once you get into the mattress, stirring those dust deposits, all that stuff gets into the air.” This tied in with Boor’s next study, in which he worked with a microbiologist focusing on how infants disperse dust particles into the air when they crawl. Then, they looked at how much of those particles would be inhaled by the infants. To study this, Boor used a robot that mimicked a baby’s movements on the floor, which then stirred the dust into the air. Boor reflected that this particular research largely benefited as an interdisciplinary project. “It’s the same exact concept, where there is a disturbance that detaches these particles from the surface,” Boor said. “This contributes to our exposure to larger particles, bigger than one micron, and a lot of the stuff tends to be of biological origin.”