ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 40

IEQ APPLICATIONS
Column
Stephanie Taylor
Bridging Mechanical Engineering and Medicine
Monitoring IAQ
And Occupant Health
BY STEPHANIE TAYLOR, M.D.
Mechanical engineers and building managers were suddenly thrust into the very center of
protecting public health when infectious disease scientists conclusively showed that SARSCoV-2
could be airborne for distances greater than 6 ft (2 m). Managing the indoor environment,
and specifi cally indoor air quality, to limit the spread of infectious disease is now
relevant to all occupied buildings, not just health-care facilities. This presents an opportunity
and a responsibility for building professionals. This column highlights some challenges
and opportunities in bridging the silos of mechanical engineering and medicine.
The 2021 ASHRAE Handbook-Fundamentals states:
" Engineers are better able to keep indoor environments
safe and productive while protecting and preserving the
outdoors. " To fulfi ll the promise to keep indoor environments
safe, building professionals must understand not
only how to decrease indoor pollutants, but also understand
how indoor conditions impact occupant immunity
and general health.
Clearly, the human body does not exist in a silo. Our
cells, tissues and organs interact with and are impacted
by our environment. The task of correlating the indoor
environment to health, however, is not easy. Despite
the complexity, we must at least not confuse air quality
measurements with the more comprehensive health
impact of the indoor environment.
IAQ and Health
Many diseases can be prevented or decreased by limiting
indoor exposure to particulate matter, organic gases
(hydrogen and carbon chains), inorganic gases and low
ambient relative humidity. For example, an abundance
40
ASHRAE JOURNAL ashrae.o rg O CTO B E R 2 0 2 1
of data associates fi ne particulate matter with increased
heart disease, strokes and premature birth. Watersoluble
gases mix with our respiratory tract mucus to
gain access to our tissues, while non-polar gases can diffuse
directly through our skin and cause organ damage.
When the indoor relative humidity (RH) is low, occupants
experience increased symptoms of reactive airway
disease (asthma) and upper airway irritation, as well as
problems from mild tissue dehydration.
Furthermore, harm from pollutant and adverse thermal
conditions does not require days or even hours of
exposure. In some cases, damage begins after several
minutes.
Creating a Health Impact Score For Indoor Spaces
Engineers with a good understanding of indoor pollutants
and acceptable exposure levels are well versed
in measuring discrete compounds such as particles
and volatile organic compounds (VOC). When IAQ is
Stephanie Taylor, M.D., is president and founder of Building 4 Health, Inc. She is a
member of ASHRAE's Epidemic Task Force and the Environmental Health Committee.
This peer-reviewed column does not represent offi cial ASHRAE guidance. For more information on ASHRAE resources on COVID-19, visit ashrae.org/COVID19.
http://www.ashrae.org/COVID19 http://ashrae.org

ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Intro
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 4
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR4
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR5
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR6
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR7
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR8
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR9
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR10
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR11
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover4
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