NAS releases report on “Health Risks of Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter”

Credit: National Academies Press

Credit: National Academies Press

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine this week released a report from a workshop focusing on the “Health Risks of Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter.” From the description:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines PM as a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets comprising a number of components, including “acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen and mold spores)”. The health effects of outdoor exposure to particulate matter (PM) are the subject of both research attention and regulatory action. Although much less studied to date, indoor exposure to PM is gaining attention as a potential source of adverse health effects. Indoor PM can originate from outdoor particles and also from various indoor sources, including heating, cooking, and smoking. Levels of indoor PM have the potential to exceed outdoor PM levels.

Understanding the major features and subtleties of indoor exposures to particles of outdoor origin can improve our understanding of the exposure–response relationship on which ambient air pollutant standards are based. The EPA’s Indoor Environments Division commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to hold a workshop examining the issue of indoor exposure to PM more comprehensively and considering both the health risks and possible intervention strategies. Participants discussed the ailments that are most affected by particulate matter and the attributes of the exposures that are of greatest concern, exposure modifiers, vulnerable populations, exposure assessment, risk management, and gaps in the science. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

I don’t see anything in it that specifically addresses articulate matter exposure in laboratories, but some of the ways to mitigate particulate exposure might work in lab settings.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. One of things I found interesting about this publication is the last chapter, which discusses the challenges of risk communication about unseeable threats. One of the speakers on this topic was George Gray, who spoke about risk communication at the UCCLS conference earlier this year. So there is a connection to the perception sciences to the lab safety world.