On the reduction of health effects from combined exposure to indoor air pollutants in modern offices
Modern offices usually have several sorts of electronic equipment and other dominant heat sources indoors, making them almost unaffected by local climatic conditions. Air conditioning and mechanical ventilation coupled with the often excessive levels of artificial lighting, require high levels of energy. At the European Union (EU) level, the Directive 91/2002, (EPBD), is a major step towards rational energy use. An important issue to consider regards IAQ. It is anticipated that developments in the field of energy use in offices will lead to its reduction through various strategies, including comfort/health standards and ventilation levels. In such a context and given the technological evolution of the functions and services accomplished in offices, it is time to address the issue of IAQ in offices. The participants of this proposal are fully aware of the issues described above and, particularly, of the difficulties to launch solid policies on IAQ, both generally and specifically in offices, related simultaneously to ventilation, energy and health. The uncertainties that justify those difficulties are derived from the lack of information regarding the toxicity of a number of compounds that pollute indoor air. Furthermore, the lack of knowledge of their indoor concentrations and exposures in the current conditions means that the real impact of these compounds on IAQ, comfort/ health and productivity in offices is unknown. The overall objective of the OFFICAIR proposal is twofold. Firstly, to establish a framework that will provide new knowledge in terms of databases, modelling tools and assessment methods towards an integrated approach in assessing the health risk from indoor air pollution, focusing on modern office buildings. Secondly, to support current EU policies, such as, the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and the European Environment and Health Strategy and Action Plan.