100 households sought for air quality survey

Galway NUIG recruiting 100 households for air quality survey

NUI Galway is seeking 100 households to take part in an indoor environmental air quality survey.

Specifically the survey is looking to measure the air quality in homes that have been built recently to a higher energy efficiency standard in a bid to reduce our country’s climate change impact.

It aims to ensure these energy efficient measures are not adversely impacting upon the indoor air quality.

The research team, led by Dr Miriam Byrne and Dr James McGrath in NUI Galway’s School of Physics have initiated the project, which will investigate homes that have the highest energy efficiency standard, an ‘A’ Building Energy Rating (BER) certification.

The research team will use a remote sensor to continuously monitor air quality within the home for 18 months.

There are four main potential pollutants which they will be on the lookout for: Volatile Organic Compounds, Radon, Thermal comfort parameters (Temperature, Humidity and Pressure), and Carbon Dioxide.

Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids such as paint, furniture polish, soap, varnishes, aerosol sprays and cleaning products.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which has no taste, colour or smell and is regulated in Ireland by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The thermal comfort assessment measurements will evaluate people’s subjective comfort, how warm or how cold they feel within their homes.

While the carbon dioxide measurements are taken to assess ventilation systems effectiveness.

Principal Investigator, Dr Miriam Byrne said that they were delighted to have received funding fro the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for this survey.

“There is a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring that a home is energy efficient, and also providing enough ventilation to guarantee acceptable indoor air quality.”

“The use of low cost sensors that wirelessly transmit data will allow us to collect detailed air quality and thermal data over a much longer period than has previously been possible.”

For people taking part in this survey, a researcher from NUIG will install a sensor about the size of a smoke alarm in four rooms of the house, the kitchen, living room, master bedroom and bathroom.

For the next 18 months these will relay information on the four pollutants to a remote monitoring team.

Participants will also be asked to fill in a sheet with questions on their home, such as heating and ventilation, as well as a thermal comfort survey and activity diary, activities such as cleaning and cooking, three times for the duration of this project.

The VALIDate project is funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

For more information and to participate in the study contact, Dr James McGrath, School of Physics, NUI Galway at james.a.mcgrath@nuigalway.ie and 091 493437.