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.
Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that moderately high indoor concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) can significantly impair people’s decision-making performance. The results were unexpected and may have particular implications for schools and other spaces with high occupant density.
Using the unique capabilities of the Chemical Dynamics Beamline at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, researchers have demonstrated that ozone can react with the nicotine in secondhand tobacco smoke to form ultrafine particles that may become a bigger threat to asthma sufferers than nicotine itself.
Nicotine in third-hand smoke, the residue from tobacco smoke that clings to virtually all surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished, reacts with the common indoor air pollutant nitrous acid to produce dangerous carcinogens. This new potential health hazard was revealed in a multi-institutional study led by researchers with Berkeley Lab.
As part of a Homeland Security study on the spread of airborne contaminants released in subway systems, Berkeley Lab researchers are measuring the flow of gas throughout tunnels and cars.
Research by Mark Mendell and Anna Mirer of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division suggests that operating buildings in ways designed to save energy – with indoor temperatures slightly cooler in winter and warmer in summer – not only saves energy but improves the health of the occupants and makes them more comfortable besides.
Air-quality research has focused on the outdoors even though most people spend the majority of their time indoors. Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division has developed a website that provides up-to-date information on how indoor air quality affects human health and work