Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New environmental test facility helps manufacturers improve indoor air quality

13.03.2006
As scientists learn more about the potentially harmful effects of indoor air pollution, nations around the world are imposing increasingly strict regulations on chemical emissions from furnishings, paints and building materials.

Using a new room-sized environmental test chamber, more than a dozen smaller chambers and a mass spectrometric center able to measure ultra-trace concentrations of airborne chemicals being emitted from products, scientists at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are helping manufacturers meet those international standards to minimize emissions.

"We can help manufacturers address regulatory issues," said Charlene Bayer, principal research scientist in GTRI’s Health and Environmental Systems Laboratory. "Because U.S. manufacturers sell their products worldwide, they must meet emission regulations imposed by nations in Europe and Asia. We make the measurements companies need to improve their products."

For example, the testing helps manufacturers of indoor furnishings select components that have lower emissions. It also helps textile and apparel companies choose fabric finishes that both survive cleaning and minimize emissions. And it helps makers of paints and other wall coverings select biocides and other chemical constituents with the least impact on the indoor environment.

Large enough to accommodate humans or animals, the new 27.5 cubic meter environmental chamber will also allow researchers to study broader concerns – including the impact of low-level indoor air pollutants on productivity and human health.

"There is an emphasis now on developing high-performance schools, and part of that will be to measure how changes in indoor air quality improve the performance of children," explained Bayer. "By studying how emissions from normal furnishings affect children performing classroom tasks, you can estimate what might happen if you reduce the emissions."

Tests involving humans will be carefully designed to avoid exposing subjects to potentially harmful levels. The research will also be done under close medical supervision, with cameras and a special windowed door to monitor subjects inside the chamber.

Beyond helping manufacturers improve their products, the new facility may lead to a better understanding of what compounds cause problems and how indoor pollutants form. There is evidence, Bayer said, that the chemistry inside buildings is more complex than previously thought.

It’s known, for instance, that ozone produced outdoors during summer months enters buildings in significant amounts. There, the powerful oxidant may react with volatile organic compounds emitted from indoor furnishings to create a chemical soup that includes compounds not originally present in the furnishings.

"The chances are very good that it’s not the emissions we know about that are really bothering people, but rather the compounds that result when the emitted chemicals react with ozone," Bayer said. "That could be quite significant in urban areas like Atlanta that have high levels of ground-level ozone."

The large chamber can simulate real-world environmental conditions inside buildings. Coupled with the sensitive mass spectrometers, that allows those low-level chemical reactions to be studied in detail.

"We really have to look at the interactions between chemicals and the changing indoor air chemistry," Bayer added. "That’s something we can now do because we have the room-sized chamber."

Beyond an improved understanding of indoor air quality, GTRI’s environmental chambers can also be used to calibrate a broad range of new sensors being developed.

"We can put sensors into a well-controlled environment that simulates real conditions," Bayer said. "We can expose the sensors to carefully-controlled levels of individual compounds, as well as to combinations of compounds."

Also under development is a vest-based instrument for measuring the airborne emissions that can affect children with asthma. By correlating exposures with attacks, the vest will help researchers better understand the factors that lead to asthma problems.

In all, GTRI operates 15 environmental chambers that range in size from just 135 milliliters up to 27.5 cubic meters.

Samples taken from the chambers are analyzed by four mass spectrometers designed for different types of identification. For example, one instrument is used to analyze light gases such as carbon dioxide, which is produced by the respiration of living organisms such as bacterial and fungi. Another system is designed for proteomic and other biomedical research. The instruments can measure as low as femtogram quantities of chemical compounds.

The facility also includes other instruments, including gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer combinations. For testing the efficiency of air filtration systems, Bayer uses a smoking machine that helps simulate a smoke-filled environment. The test facility also analyzes the efficiency of other equipment designed to clean the air.

Beyond the expertise and facilities in GTRI’s own labs, Bayer can call on researchers in Georgia Tech’s academic colleges – as well as collaborators at Emory University, Georgia State University and the University of Miami Medical School.

"Combining these capabilities, we can focus on the far-reaching and difficult issues," she said. "The linkage to academic researchers and to these other schools gives us tremendous abilities to study complex issues."

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Construction Impact Guide
18.05.2018 | Hochschule RheinMain

nachricht New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities
24.01.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>