The quality of air-outdoor or indoor- takes a toll on human health with time. Recent studies have revealed that most people spend about 90% of their time indoors and 75% of their time indoors at home. Indoor air pollution can lead to significant health issues and some groups, including children, pregnant women, and limited resource households are at higher risk for experiencing negative health impacts from indoor air pollutant exposure. Indoor air polluting elements have been seen to emanate from materials used in constructing the structure, construction techniques employed, activities within the indoor space and connection of the indoor space to the external environment.
Babies crawl on the floor and young children walk, run, and play on the floor; thus, the breathing zone of children is much lower (up to 1 m from the floor). Adults and children literally breathe different air. Despite the increasing awareness concerning the deterioration of the child breathing zone due to poor indoor air quality in the scientific community, there is very limited research with a focus on the child breathing zone. Furthermore, no current indoor air quality management system has been designed to specifically focus on improving the indoor air quality in the child breathing zone.
To this note, Eeshan Tripathii a student at The Dalton School and his mentor professor Joseph Laquatra from the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University demonstrated that the child breathing zone (CBZ) needs special attention. Their research shows that the simplifying assumption of uniform distribution of air pollutant leads to underestimation of risk exposure to children and because of the simplifying assumption, current building and ventilation system designs are inadequate in addressing the exposure risk and protecting infants and young children. Their empirical analysis shows that stratification (air pollutant concentration varies with height) and resuspension (stirring of dust and pollutants due to activity) necessitates rethinking the remediation strategies.
The goal of their research was to examine a method for providing better indoor air quality in the child breathing zone to reduce short- and long-term health risks for children and other occupants. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Journal of Architectural Engineering. The research method employed commenced with the selection of a residential room facing vehicular traffic. The windows to this room were kept open for 24 hours so as to seed the room with particulate matter. Next, Mr. Tripathii brought in a mechanical robot accompanied by an adult to simulate the movement of a child for a 10-minutes period. He then proceeded to collect the indoor air quality data in the child breathing zone and adult breathing zone over different floor surfaces.
The authors observed that children faced higher risk as the air pollutant concentration in the child breathing zone became substantially higher, and these higher concentrations persisted for a longer period of time. Moreover, the risk was seen to be amplified by the jumping, crawling and movement of the child since such movement created a higher particulate matter concentration due to resuspension.
The Eeshan Tripathii- Joseph Laquatra study demonstrated the applicability of cost effective tools to monitor and measure air-quality parameters and to use the monitoring mechanism to create a solution that automatically improves IAQ by either automatically removing the suspended fine particles or by encouraging proactive remedial action. Altogether, their work builds on the insight that conveying information along with practical measures can minimize risks of exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Eeshan Tripathii and Joseph Laquatra. Managing Indoor Air Quality in the Child Breathing Zone: Risk Analysis and Mitigation. Journal of Architectural Engineering, 2018, volume 24(1): 04018002.Go To Journal of Architectural Engineering