Research group of Indoor Environment and Occupational Health

Our motto:
Healthy and productive people in healthy indoor and working environment

Research group description

RESEARCH AREAS

The research of the group of indoor environment and occupational health is focused on exposure assessment, health effects of indoor air impurities, risk assessment, control and mitigation of the exposure at different indoor and occupational environments. Our expertise include e.g., bioaerosols, volatile and semivolatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs), particles, ventilation and cleanliness of HVAC systems, risk assessment of plastic recycling, material and process emissions, irritation testing of chemicals and particles. In addition, we develop methods for indoor air and occupational hygiene measurements.

EXPERTISE

Bioaerosol laboratory

The bioaerosol laboratory includes basic equipment for collecting and analyzing material, surface and air samples for microbiological analyses as well as special equipment for experimental bioaerosol work. The group has the capability to generate bioaerosols from laboratory media or from contaminated building materials using an FSSST-generator (Fungal Spore Source Strength Tester), which was specifically designed to simulate dry aerosolization of fungal spores. Bacterial aerosols are generated with a Collison nebulizer that better stimulates the droplet aerosolization of bacteria.

The basic research includes the studies on the growth, sporulation and aerosolization of fungi and characterization of fungal fragments. The applied research includes for example, investigation of the behavior of bioaerosols in air samplers and air cleaners and studies on the storage of microbiological samples to be used for various types of assays.

Volatile organic compounds (VOC)

VOCs are collected by Tenax TA/GR tubes and analyzed with a gas chromatograph equipped with a mass selective detector after thermal desorption (TD) as toluene equivalent. The sampling, analysis and concentration of VOCs are determined by ISO 16000-6:2004 standard method.

Formaldehyde and other carbonyls are collected with dinitrophenyl hydratzine (DNPH) samplers, eluted with acetonitrile, and analysed with HPLC.

Particle measurements

Our research group has several techniques and instruments to measure particles and fibers and assess the exposure levels at different working and indoor environments.

  • Inhalable dust is measured with IOM samplers. The method is based on standards EN 481 ja ISO/CD 7708.
  • Mineral and organic fibers can be measured with carbon adhesive discs.
  • Several on-line instruments to monitor particle mass and number concentrations and particle number size distribution.

Ventilation measurements

Our laboratory is provided with ventilation measuring techniques to monitor air flow rate, air velocity, pressure drop or pressure differences, indoor air exchange rate as well as air distribution, air tightness of a building, and thermal differences caused by air leakages or poor thermal insulation.

Cleanliness of ventilation systems

  • Cleanliness inspections of air-handling systems in buildings
  • Dust level and consistency in ventilation ducts
  • Cleanliness classification measurements

The Cleanliness Classification of Air-handling Components M1 controls lubricant residues and dust levels of new air-handling components. More information from the Building Information Foundation: https://cer.rts.fi/en/m1-emission-class-for-building-material/

Irritation testing

With the irritation testing method we can determine the irritation potency of different chemicals and particles according to standard ASTM E 981-84, that enables the estimation of safe exposure levels at different occupational settings.

Keywords

Group members - UEF

Other group members

  • Samuel Hartikainen
    Samuel Hartikainen samuel.e.hartikainen@student.oulu.fi

Links

Publications by the research group members