Page E2.1 . 22 August 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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  • Barriers to Building Green
  • Breathing Easy

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    Breathing Easy

    by Katharine Logan

    Indoor air pollution consistently ranks among the top four environmental risks to the public, according to comparative risk studies performed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    Indoor levels of air pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, occasionally reaching levels 100 times higher. With most US residents spending 90 percent of their time indoors, indoor air pollution has a significant impact on public health.

    Poor indoor air quality can result in increased risk of asthma and allergies, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. Besides these identifiable building-related illnesses (BRI), poor indoor air quality can also result in the more nebulous symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS).

    SBS symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, cough, sneezing, dizziness, nausea, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

    Cleaning the Air

    To raise awareness of indoor air quality and its effect on public health, the American Lung Association (ALA) has created the "Breathe Easy Office," a demonstration office building using energy-efficient, low-cost, sustainable materials and techniques.

    The Breathe Easy Office strives to eliminate known and suspected pollutants; where elimination is not possible, the building design separates pollutants from the work space. Moisture and pressure levels are maintained at optimal levels, and enhanced technology filters particles and contaminants from the air.



    ArchWeek Photo

    The American Lung Association's Breathe Easy Office is a wood-frame, brick-clad building with a metal roof materials chosen for their lack of toxicity.
    Photo: American Lung Association of Virginia

    ArchWeek Photo

    Outside, low-pollen plants and rock mulch make breathing easier for allergy sufferers.
    Photo: American Lung Association of Virginia


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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