While outdoor air quality is regulated, indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes has been relatively neglected despite the links between IAQ and health. This paper empirically examines the concentrations and trends in indoor temperature, relative humidity (RH), carbon dioxide (CO2), Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), VOCs (EtOH) and Isobutylene across a sample of 42 existing social housing dwellings located in West Midlands (UK). Time series data were recorded continuously at 15-minute intervals from 1 February 2022 to 30 April 2022, using Airthinx sensors located in the living rooms of each dwelling. Contextual data about the physical and household characteristics were gathered using in-person surveys. Statistical analysis revealed that under heating was dominant, with eight dwellings failing to reach the recommended 18°C indoor temperature, due to poor insulation levels and high heating costs. Mould was present in 61% of dwellings, despite mean RH values remaining below 65%. CO2 concentrations were related with occupancy, with mean values frequently above 900ppm and as high as 3,092ppm in some dwellings, due to limited ventilation to conserve heat. High PM levels were generally associated with indoor smoking, with PM2.5 concentration rising to 202ug/m3, substantially above the 15ug/m3 limit. VOCs remained low, yet indoor painting and air fresheners provided the greatest increases. The poor levels of IAQ in these dwellings makes a strong case for whole house energy retrofits that reduce unwanted heat loses, improve air-tightness and provide continuous background ventilation for removal of indoor pollutants.
Gupta, RajatBerry, Chloe
School of Architecture
Year of publication: 2023Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-09-15