Impacts of a clay plaster on actual and perceived indoor air quality

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Darling, Erin Kennedy

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Passive removal materials (PRMs) are building materials or furnishings that can effectively control indoor pollution without substantial formation of chemical byproducts and without energy penalty. To assess clay wall plaster as an effective PRM for improving air quality by controlling ozone, perceived air quality (PAQ) was determined in the presence of eight combinations of an emitting and reactive pollutant source (new carpet), clay plaster applied to gypsum wallboard, and chamber air with and without ozone. A panel of 18 to 23 human subjects assessed air quality in twin 30 m3 chambers using a continuous acceptability scale. Air samples were collected immediately prior to panel assessment to quantify concentrations of C5 to C10 saturated n-aldehydes and two aromatic aldehydes that are commonly produced by reaction of ozone with carpet. Perceived Air Quality was most acceptable and concentrations of aldehydes were lowest when only clay plaster or both clay plaster and carpet were present in the chambers without ozone. The least acceptable PAQ and the highest concentrations of aldehydes were observed when carpet and ozone were present together; addition of clay plaster for this condition improved PAQ and considerably decreased aldehyde concentrations. Ozone deposition and byproduct emissions of the clay wall plaster were also assessed using 48 liter stainless steel chambers. Clay plaster applied to gypsum wallboard that had been exposed in a test house (UTest House) for one year effectively removed 88% of the ozone, and emitted high aldehyde concentrations when exposed to high purity air that did not increase when the material was exposed to ozone. The outcome of these experiments leads to speculation that the clay plaster adsorbed contaminants in the test house and then re-emitted them upon exposure to clean air in the small chambers.



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