Indoor air researchers at Berkeley Lab recently tested seven consumer-grade air quality monitors to see if they could detect fine particles emitted by common household activities, including cooking, burning candles, and smoking. All of the monitors tested were found to have either underreported or missed the presence of very small particles that can penetrate deeply into the lungs.
A Berkeley Lab study has found that the the solvents found in most electronic cigarette “e-liquids” emit toxic chemicals such as acrolein and formaldehyde when burned.
Berkeley Lab researchers have been awarded $1.3 million for two sets of studies to better understand the health impacts of thirdhand smoke, the noxious residue that clings to virtually all indoor surfaces long after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out.
Scientists at Berkeley Lab, who have made important findings on the dangers of thirdhand smoke and how it adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, have published a new study assessing the health effects of thirdhand smoke constituents present in indoor air. Looking at levels of more than 50 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and airborne particles for 18 hours after smoking had taken place, they found that thirdhand smoke continues to have harmful health impacts for many hours after a cigarette has been extinguished.
What leads to “sick building syndrome”—and can fresh air help? Will a particle filter benefit those with allergies or asthma? Indoor air scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have investigated these and other questions recently. Here are some of the highlights.
In the first study to evaluate the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke for patrons of restaurants and bars, researchers have found that the risks are well above the acceptable level. The study assessed the risk for lung cancer and heart disease deaths among both patrons and servers and also for asthma initiation—the first study to do so—among servers.
Berkeley Lab indoor air researchers have found hazardous levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide in a surprisingly large portion of California home kitchens. What’s more, their studies have shown that the most common device for mitigating this indoor air problem—range hoods—vary widely in performance.
A study led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found for the first time that thirdhand smoke—the noxious residue that clings to virtually all surfaces long after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out—causes significant genetic damage in human cells.
If you suspect that opening windows to let in fresh air might be good for you, a new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has confirmed your hunch. Analyzing extensive data on ventilation rates collected from more than 150 classrooms in California over two years, the researchers found that bringing classroom ventilation rates up to the state-mandated standard may reduce student absences due to illness by approximately 3.4 percent.
For decades, no one worried much about the air quality inside people’s homes unless there was secondhand smoke or radon present. Then scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory made the discovery that the aggregate health consequences of poor indoor air quality are as significant as those from all traffic accidents or infectious diseases in the United States. They are now working on turning those research findings into science-based solutions, including better standards for residential buildings and easier ways to test for the hazardous pollutants.