University of Oulu

Sani Dimitroulopoulou, Marzenna R. Dudzińska, Lars Gunnarsen, Linda Hägerhed, Henna Maula, Raja Singh, Oluyemi Toyinbo, Ulla Haverinen-Shaughnessy, Indoor air quality guidelines from across the world: An appraisal considering energy saving, health, productivity, and comfort, Environment International, Volume 178, 2023, 108127, ISSN 0160-4120,

Indoor air quality guidelines from across the world : an appraisal considering energy saving, health, productivity, and comfort

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Author: Dimitroulopoulou, Sani1; Dudzińska, Marzenna R.2; Gunnarsen, Lars3;
Organizations: 1Air Quality and Public Health, UK Health Security Agency, UK
2Faculty of Environmental Engineering, Lublin University of Technology, Poland
3Department of the Built Environment, Aalborg University, Denmark
4Department of Resource Recovery and Building Technology, The University of Borås, Sweden
5Engineering and Business, Construction Industry, Built Environment Research Group, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland
6Department of Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India, ISAC CBEP, New Delhi & Tathatara Foundation, India
7Civil Engineering Research Unit, The University of Oulu, Finland
8Indoor Air Program, The University of Tulsa, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-09


Buildings are constructed and operated to satisfy human needs and improve quality of life. Good indoor air quality (IAQ) and thermal comfort are prerequisites for human health and well-being. For their provision, buildings often rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which may lead to higher energy consumption. This directly impacts energy efficiency goals and the linked climate change considerations. The balance between energy use, optimum IAQ and thermal comfort calls for scientifically solid and well-established limit values for exposures experienced by building occupants in indoor spaces, including homes, schools, and offices.

The present paper aims to appraise limit values for selected indoor pollutants reported in the scientific literature, and to present how they are handled in international and national guidelines and standards. The pollutants include carbon dioxide (CO₂), formaldehyde (CH₂O), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), carbon monoxide (CO), and radon (Rn). Furthermore, acknowledging the particularly strong impact on energy use from HVAC, ventilation, indoor temperature (T), and relative humidity (RH) are also included, as they relate to both thermal comfort and the possibilities to avoid moisture related problems, such as mould growth and proliferation of house dust mites.

Examples of national regulations for these parameters are presented, both in relation to human requirements in buildings and considering aspects related to energy saving. The work is based on the Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) guidelines database, which spans across countries and institutions, and aids in taking steps in the direction towards a more uniform guidance for values of indoor parameters. The database is coordinated by the Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) 34, as part of ISIAQ, the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.

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Series: Environment international
ISSN: 0160-4120
ISSN-E: 1873-6750
ISSN-L: 0160-4120
Volume: 178
Article number: 108127
DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2023.108127
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 212 Civil and construction engineering
Funding: Halton Foundation has provided a grant for ISIAQ for developing the database.
Copyright information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (