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Risk assessment of sensory irritants in Indoor air - A case study in a French School

Abstract : Exposure to airborne pollutants can result in adverse health effects. Acute symptoms can for instance comprise of irritation of the eyes or of the respiratory tract (called sensory irritation). In a recent case, health problems were reported in a French school and supposedly attributed to the presence of airborne irritant pollutants. Based on measured concentrations, the risk of developing the described health effects was assessed. Numerous airborne sensory irritants (aldehydes, organic acids, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), SO2, NH3) were identified and quantified in the indoor air by using active and passive sampling and online monitoring techniques. Reference values based on toxicological properties of compounds (sensory irritants) were taken from the literature. If not available, tentative values were specialty developed for this purpose. Concentrations of all sensory irritants remain below their corresponding guideline values and are comparable to literature data. It was concluded that the risk of developing sensory irritation due to the presence of the studied compounds is negligible. This holds both for individual compounds and for the mixture of studied compounds. Limitations of the employed sampling strategy, and of existing sampling and analytical techniques, which do not allow for analysing more reactive compounds-which are strong sensory irritants-may play a role. New sampling techniques need to be developed. Psychosocial factors (group behaviour, increased attention to sensory irritation) should also be taken into account when dealing with health complaints on sensory irritation.
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Roman Meininghaus, Amin Kouniali, Corinne Mandin, André Cicolella. Risk assessment of sensory irritants in Indoor air - A case study in a French School. Environment International, Elsevier, 2003, 28 (7), pp.553-557. ⟨10.1016/S0160-4120(02)00063-6⟩. ⟨ineris-00961878⟩

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