[GSBN] Indoor Air Quality study

RT archilogic at yahoo.ca
Mon Nov 14 00:43:04 CST 2011

On Fri, 11 Nov 2011 19:58:31 -0500, <GSBN-request at sustainablesources.com>  
> From: Pete Walker <P.Walker at ...
> To: Global Straw Bale Network <gsbn at greenbuilder.com>
> Subject: [GSBN] Indoor Air Quality study
> I am supervising a Master students at the University of Bath looking at
> indoor air quality of straw bale buildings, in particular fungal spore
> counts. The idea for the project stemmed initially from what i believe
> are largely spurious stories that this is a potential health problem for
> building users. To date we have taken measurements in one straw bale
> building that showed the fungal spore count was in fact higher than the
> control conditions, but well below WHO limits.
> Is anyone aware of similar studies having been completed?
> UK GSBN subscribers: we are looking for straw bale buildings to sample.
> Volunteers please.


I found your incredulity (re: " largely spurious stories that this is a  
potential health problem") to be curious given that:

	(i)  in-wall moisture sensors in monitored SB buildings have shown that  
	elevated moisture levels necessary to support deleterious microbial  
activity do in fact occur frequently and

	(ii) air-tight construction to prevent moisture intrusion (piggy-backed  
on air leakage)
	into the envelope materials and escape of mould spores from wetted  
envelope materials into
	the indoor air environment is the result of a conscious  
effort/implementation of
	meticulous detailing (rather than something that just happens as a result  
of good intentions) and

	(iii) given the rainy reputation of the UK and the large numbers of SB  
buildings whose exterior
	 plaster is not protected from rain-wetting by a rainscreen cladding one  
would suspect that the
	drying regime does not exceed the wetting regime

	... much more that would easily dispel any incredulity on my part.

Unfortunately, the SB-friendly, bona fide IAQ expert at CMHC (Don Fugler)  
retired last year so is no longer available to the SB community at the  
click of a mouse so I'll have to try and stumble through this .

Rather than asking for volunteer subjects, I'd venture that it might be  
more effective to have someone who is experienced at spotting potential  
moisture problems in buildings, spend a week or so touring around the  
isle  (or maybe via Google satellite imagery) to have a cursory look at as  
many SB buildings as possible in order to identify the ones that are  
likely candidates for a closer look.

The next step might be to contact the owners of the first cull and seek  
permission to inspect their building to look for clues indicating that  
microbial activity within the envelope materials is getting into the  
indoor air environment. (ie discolouration (ie mould spore flumes) of the  
finishes in the vicinity of discontinuities in the air barrier (ie plaster  
cracks, joints between dissimilar materials/components/planes etc) etc ...  
and then monitor the IAQ of the worst of that bunch only. (ie no point  
wasting time/resources monitoring obviously healthy buildings)

Stephen Collette (see below) has offered his assistance.

============== forwarded material  =====================
> On 2011-11-13, at 9:35 PM, Stephen Collette wrote:
[snipped & pasted]
>> Thank you very much for thinking of me with respect to this research. I  
>> sincerely appreciate you forwarding me the post.
>> I am always interested in research such as this. Please forward my  
>> contact information to these folks and let them know that I am a former  
>> straw bale builder and now do air quality inspections full time, and  
>> that I think I could help them out in some way.
>> Respectfully,
>> Stephen
>> Stephen Collette BBEC, LEED AP, BSSO
>> Your Healthy House - Indoor Environmental Testing & Building Consulting
>> http://www.yourhealthyhouse.ca

================ End of forwarded material ===========

(This message has been copied to the Euro SB List with an eye to expanding  
the field of exploration beyond the very limited GSBN List membership.  
More is better in this instance. )

=== * ===
Rob Tom
Kanata, Ontario, Canada

< A r c h i L o g i c  at  Y a h o o  dot  c a  >
(manually winnow the chaff from my edress if you hit "reply")

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