Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 29th July 2021, 05:26:21am CEST

Session Overview
Session 16: Indoor epidemiology
Tuesday, 22/June/2021:
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Session Chair: Pertti Pasanen
Session Co-chair: Randi Jacobsen Bertelsen
Location: Zoom room #2
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1:00pm - 1:05pm

Pandemic and Office Design: A review of health effects of different office concepts.

Ane Gjerland1, Stephan Soos2, Tor Erik Danielsen3, Barbro Grude Eikseth2, Hanne Tosterud4, Liv Hiis Bergh4, Morten Hatling5, Stein Knardahl6

1Western Norway University of Applied Sciences; 2Directorate of Public Construction and Property; 3Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority; 4Norwegian Government Security and Service Organisation, Department for Facility Management; 5SINTEF Community; 6The National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway

BACKGROUND: The Covid-19 pandemic has led to changes in how office work is carried out. Flexible and open office concepts that have seen rising popularity in past years are now called into question regarding risk of infection. This has merged with the pre-pandemic discussion regarding office concepts’ risk for sick leave and disability retirement, creating an increased focus on how office concepts influence the health of employees.

AIMS: Our paper summarizes international empirical research on the connections between working in flexible or open office concepts, and the risk of sick leave and/or disability retirement.

METHODS: Relevant studies were identified from existing literature overviews on the topic, database searches using PubMed and Google Scholar, contact with experts in the field, and reference lists. The quality of the evidence has been assessed according to GRADE (very low, low, moderate, and high levels of evidence quality).

RESULTS: We have identified seven relevant empirical studies. As compared to cell offices, we found:

1. Very low evidence for increased risk of sick leave among employees working in flexible office concepts. This risk is possibly higher for men than for women.

2. Low evidence for an increased risk of sick leave for employees working in open office solutions, with a potential higher risk for women than for men.

3. No basis to conclude regarding risk of disability retirement for employees in flexible office concepts.

4. Low evidence for increased risk of disability retirement for employees working in open office solutions.

Additionally, there was no basis to conclude regarding differences in sick leave or disability retirement risk between open-plan offices of different sizes.

DISCUSSION: The evidence on these topics range from absent to being of low quality. There is need for more research on these issues, and on the specific factors that could influence the health of the large global population of office workers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased awareness of work-related infections, and virtual meetings and the number of office workers working from home have increased significantly. In future assessments of office concepts, we believe that the opportunities and challenges of flexible use of workspaces in offices and at home, including virtual meeting places and new ways of organizing work, must be considered.

1:05pm - 1:10pm

How well are health institutions prepared for pandemics, in terms of ventilation and protective equipment?

Ann-Helen Olsen

University hospital of North Norway, Norway

To deal with a pandemic, health institutions require, among other things, good ventilation and the necessary protective equipment. But how good is the ventilation in health care institutions today? Many institutions have existing rooms for isolation of patients with a high risk of infection. But how is the focus on ventilation if premises need to be reallocated to handle high-risk infection? It seems that there has been little discussion on this topic regarding covid-19. I will discuss recommended air exchange versus actual air exchange in examples from some health institutions.

A pandemic causes abnormally high consumption of respiratory protection and protective equipment. This can lead to a shortage of personal protective equipment. To ensure good access to respiratory protection in a situation of shortage, health institutions should facilitate the use of reusable respiratory protection (masks). I will discuss disposable mask versus reusable mask during a pandemic.

Reusable masks require locations that enable their maintenance, cleaning and disinfection. These localities most likely do not exist, and this requires plans for alterations / developments. I will discuss whether it will be possible to facilitate such developments.

This presentation will focus on these issues as well as look at what solutions can be found.

1:10pm - 1:22pm

Impacts of the indoor environment in our homes and schools on child health: A novel analysis using the EU-SILC Database

Daniel Gehrt1, Marco Hafner1, Sune Tobias Grollov2, Jens Christoffersen2

1RAND Europe; 2VELUX A/S

Today, more than 26 million European children are living in unhealthy homes putting them at higher risk of experiencing health problems. Good air quality, sufficient access to daylight and adequate ventilation are important for creating a healthy indoor environment in any home, with the effects reaching far beyond childhood. Our research is based on analysis of the Eurostat microdata from the EU-wide survey “Income and Living Conditions in Europe” (EU-SILC). The results show that mould and dampness, as well as poor ventilation, can take a child from good health to poor health with links to higher levels of asthma, allergies, eczema, and lower and upper respiratory conditions. A growing number of children are burdened with ailments that challenge their ability to be present and fully engaged at school. Across Europe, the prevalence of children affected by asthma has become an increasing problem in the last few decades. It is not just childhood health that is affected by poor indoor climate. Unhealthy home environments can result in higher absence from school and work, putting a greater strain on both children, parents and the economy. Tackling the unhealthy homes in which a third of European children live and the many unhealthy schools and day-care centres they attend, is an opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of the most vulnerable Europeans. Furthermore, it is also an opportunity to improve societies, deliver on our energy and climate commitments and address inequalities, while saving money and valuable resources at the same time.

Our study has found that a significant proportion of children in the EU-28 are exposed to one or several indoor climate hazards. In summary, if in all dwellings reporting damp, noise, excess cold and/or lack of daylight those respective deficiencies were removed, the health of more than 1 million children (aged 0–15) in the EU could be improved. The burden of disease from indoor damp and mould exposure of children in relation to asthma, atopic dermatitis, as well as respiratory infections is 37,500 disability adjusted life years (DALYs) for the EU as a whole. The total number of school days missed by children across the EU that is attributable to the prevalence of damp and mould in their homes is 1.7 million.

1:22pm - 1:27pm

Indoor Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter and Practical Mitigation Approaches - a U.S. National Academy of Sciences Workshop

David A. Butler

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, United States of America

Particulate matter (PM) dominates the known health impacts of air pollution. Most exposure to PM from both indoor and outdoor sources takes place in indoor environments, a circumstance exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is especially concerning because a large and growing body of scientific literature indicates that it is associated with adverse health outcomes, including cognitive effects.

In response to a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is convening scientific experts in a workshop that will address the state-of the-science on exposure to fine particulate matter indoors, its health impacts, and engineering approaches and interventions to reduce exposure risks, including practical mitigation solutions in residential settings. The workshop will feature invited presentations and panel discussions on these topics. It will include consideration of

1. the key implications of scientific research and engineering practice for public health, including potential near-term opportunities for incorporating what is known into practice; and

2. where additional research will be most critical to understanding indoor exposure to PM2.5 and the effectiveness of interventions.

Opportunities for advancing research by addressing methodological and technological barriers and enhancing coordination and collaboration between the science, medical, and engineering communities will also be given attention. The workshop will take place in Spring 2021 and will be broadcast live over the internet to facilitate international participation. Videos of the sessions and copies of the presentations will be posted to the ‘net for later reference. A proceedings summarizing the workshop will be released in Summer 2021.

The paper and conference talk will summarize the results of the workshop, reviewing the issues regarding indoor PM exposure and health, identifying the major unknowns, the research needed to resolve them, and the measures that can be taken to mitigate adverse effects. Information on a second National Academies study regarding the emerging science on indoor chemistry will also be presented. As the workshop has not yet been held and the indoor chemistry study has yet to begin, it is not yet possible to provide further detail regarding the content.

1:27pm - 1:39pm

Robust and reliable deep renovation by advanced prefabricated façade elements. Air-tightness performance and assessment of a demo case

Sverre Holøs, Kari Thunshelle

SINTEF, Norway

Deep renovation of the existing building mass is an important task to reach the target of energy efficient buildings and neighbourhood.

However, the current renovation rate is only 1% of the European building stock each year, and barrier for increased rate must be addressed. Attaching prefabricated elements with integrated technologies such as photovoltaic panels or ventilation equipment to the façades and roofs can improve energy performance and indoor climate as well as provide local renewable energy supply. The construction period can be short, with limited disturbance to building usage.

The project 4RinEU has developed and demonstrated solutions suitable for several climates. Building airtightness of the renovated buildings is an important design goal of the refurbishment, and is determined by blower-door tests before and after renovation.

This paper presents air-tightness results from a demo case study in Norway. In the demo case the airtightness as determined by blower-door tests quite unexpectedly deteriorated, while the design goal for the projects was a major improvement. Probable causes for the discrepancy are discussed, and include leakage from the ground, in element joints and in unplanned openings.

1:39pm - 1:51pm

Longitudinal characterization of the human personal cloud effect associated with gaseous and particle pollutants in Switzerland

María Viviana González Serrano, Dusan Licina

Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

Exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) and gases is associated to detrimental health effects and decrease in work performance. Increasing research efforts are dedicated to assessing personal exposure by using ambient stations as proxies, however, this method often poorly resembles the air we breathe indoors since it cannot account for the effect of personal activities and the proximity to indoor sources. Studies in the past identified the personal cloud effect which suggests an increase of air pollutants' concentration inhaled compared to those detected by stationary monitors. Hence, it is essential to understand exposure at the individual level in order to assess and mitigate air pollutant exposures. In this study, ten participants were monitored during five consecutive days by concurrent measurements in the breathing zone and stationary level in their homes and offices. Real-time data were obtained for particulate matter (size range 0.3-10 µm) and carbon dioxide, while integrated samples were collected for particulate matter of size smaller than 10 µm (PM10), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes for chemical analysis. In addition, a time-activity diary phone-app was used by the participants to record their location and activities. The results show that personal exposures to PM10 mass were consistently higher than indoor ambient concentrations for all participants in the home and the office. The personal PM10 cloud magnitude varied between 5-25 μg/m3. Correlations between personal and ambient stations were sensitive to the stationary monitor location in the home environment; the ambient station displayed a stronger correlation with the personal station when it was located in the bedroom than in the living room. Additionally, a source apportionment analysis was done for personal and ambient PM10 samples and six types of sources were identified. An overall of 33 compounds were detected from the VOCs and aldehydes in the sampling locations. The personal cloud magnitude was less pronounced or absent for gaseous pollutants relative to particulate matter. Through spatially and temporally resolved measurements of individual level exposures this study examines the diversity and variation of multiple air pollutants and presents insights that can be useful for enhancing the exposure prediction to indoor air pollutants.

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