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Developments in the Built Environment

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Indoor Air Quality -- Monitoring


Indoor environmental quality is a paramount concern among architects. Exposure to VOCs and microorganisms impacts occupant health, yet the role of materials on these exposures remains poorly understood. In this study, we placed four material types in individual microcosms to test whether material type influences bacterial community structure and VOC emission. We used culture-independent methods to characterize bacterial communities and TD-GC-MS to measure VOC emission. We found that viable bacterial communities had different patterns of abundance, diversity, and composition, in comparison with total (viable plus dead cells) bacterial communities. Examining viable bacteria only, Earth had the highest abundance and diversity, unique community composition, and overall negative VOC emission. Timber had the lowest bacterial abundance, composition similar to Gypsum and Concrete, and the highest VOC emission rate. Our research provides further evidence that architects’ decisions about building materials can influence chemical and microbial exposures indoors.


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