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By K Hess-Kosa. (Pp 300; £59.99). 2001. Boca Raton, FL, USA: Lewis Publishers, CRC Press. ISBN 1-56670-539-8
By its very nature, indoor air quality is a vast subject with a comprehensive and rapidly expanding literature of its own. A text that concentrates solely on sampling methodologies rather than a multitude of analytical methods for a plethora of indoor air pollutants is therefore to be welcomed.
Hess-Kosa's book comprises four principal sections which deal with the planning and structure of an indoor air quality investigation, sampling for bioaerosols, chemicals, and dusts. Each section has chapters on groups of pollutants which consider occurrence, sampling strategy, sampling methodologies, an overview of analytical methods, and brief guidance on interpretation of results. Overall the book covers most common substances that air quality investigators are likely to encounter in the field. It is moderately well illustrated with black and white photographs and line diagrams.
The section on bioaerosols encompasses pollens and spores, viable microbial allergens, and toxigenic microbes. The section dealing with chemicals covers volatile organic compounds, mould volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and product emissions. It is perhaps surprising that other important indoor air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, radon, tobacco smoke, and semivolatile organic compounds are not included. The section on dusts covers dusts in general and animal allergenic dusts (mites and insects).
The book is intended for environmental professionals and industrial hygienists. It will be useful background reading for those at the start of their careers and will be helpful additional material for first degree students in environmental science or occupational hygiene who are undertaking an “air pollution” module. It is written in a colloquial American style, which, although easy to read and understand, British students may find a little clumsy in places. The book focuses very strongly on air quality investigations in commercial and office buildings; hence some of the detail about sampling strategies is not relevant to investigations in homes and other residential accommodation. It is also written in a North American context and concentrates on United States Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health procedures and methods. These may not be directly applicable to investigations in the United Kingdom. There is, for example, little if any reference to the World Health Organisation air quality guidelines for Europe, the United Kingdom Government's air quality strategy, or any of the Health and Safety Executive methods of determination of hazardous substances.
Students are likely to find the parts of the book which deal with biological aspects of indoor air quality, which account for over one third of the text, to be the most helpful.
The chapter on volatile organic compounds is somewhat weak and does not give sufficient explanation of the concept of total volatile organic compounds and its limitation. It is somewhat superficial in its treatment of sampling by adsorption on porous polymers and does not mention diffusive sampling at all, a significant omission. The discussion of automated thermal desorption gas chromatography with mass spectrometric identification of substances (surely the technique of choice for most investigators of volatile organic compounds in buildings) is inadequate, although it could be argued that this was more to do with analysis than sampling. The chapter on formaldehyde similarly does not consider diffusive sampling methods which are now widely used.
The section on dust again lacks detail, particularly on size distributions and the theory of operation of size selective samplers. There is no real discussion of aerodynamic diameter or the concept of respirable particles, for example. It is best regarded as an introduction to a complex subject. The practical hints on settled dust sampling are, however, useful.
In summary this book is informative, but not essential reading for investigators of indoor air quality.
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