Formulated by the Central Pollution Control Board, at the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests, IAQ guidelines are a clear protocol on all measures that define air quality for indoor spaces. These measurements include the concentration of pollutants, humidity levels, and temperature levels for ideal living.
Here, indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of air inside buildings and depends on multiple factors – adequate ventilation, chemical, and toxic pollutants, temperature levels, and relative humidity levels. Poor levels can cause discomfort and even lead to illness.
In its recommendations, the Board has said that each living space would have a clear IAQ protocol based on:
- Type of Building (I.e., Commercial, Residential, or Sensitive)
- IAQ Building Audit
- Diagnosis of IAQ-related health problems in the building
- Specific pollutants for the building, including IAQ guideline values (permissible limits)
- Creating an IAQ management and maintenance program to reduce IAQ risks
- Protecting occupants from exposure due to construction or renovation
- Calculate the cost, revenue, and productivity impacts for planned IAQ activities
They determine these factors by three areas of investigation – environmental measurements, building and ventilation characterization, and an occupant questionnaire. They also include a schedule of measurements, standard equipment, and ways to select a representative space for these activities.
The list of pollutants cover:
- Indoor Environment Contaminants:
- Biological exposure: Allergens or microbiological;
- Chemical exposure: Dust, aerosols, or vapours;
- Physical exposure: Acoustic environment, humidity, air movement, thermal environment
- Emission controlling variables: Building site and type, materials, ventilation type, outdoor pollution, emission rates, elimination rates
- Co-variables for human reactions: Genetic factors, personal co-factors, building-related co-factors, social environment, work environment, exposure times
- Human Reactions: Symptoms from eyes, nose and upper airways, throat, mouth, lower airways, stomach, heart, ear, hyper-reactivity, skin reactions, heat balance, neurological effects, psychological effects, and changes in human activity patterns.
- Non-human reactions: From animals and plants and effects of buildings and other properties.
- These guidelines are consolidated with a pilot study, using a minimum of 50 samples and prescribed equipment to ensure proper data collection and fidelity.