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By T Godish. (Pp 461; £59.99) 2001. Boca Raton, FL, USA: Lewis, CRC Press. ISBN: 1 56670 402 2
Professional and public concern about the quality of the indoor environment has grown significantly in the past decade or so, and there are now several books available to the interested reader. This volume by Godish is an important contribution and is very much focused on practical aspects.
Books on indoor environmental quality tend to compartmentalise the salient issues into risk assessment aspects, such as pollutants and their sources, human exposure, and health effects, and building aspects such as ventilation and air conditioning. In part this reflects the likely audience: health professionals or architects, engineers or building managers. The value of Godish's book is that it takes a very broad view of indoor environmental quality and attempts to show the connections between different aspects of this complex subject. He attempts to provide valuable and meaningful information to anyone interested in this field, whether from an academic or applied perspective. It has often been said that tackling the problems of indoor air quality requires a multidisciplinary approach, and the author has certainly attempted to bring together all relevant considerations. Of course, the danger of such an approach, in such a relatively small volume, is that detail is lost and reference sources are limited. Thus, for example, this is not likely to be the first or best book to turn to for detailed information on concentrations of air pollutants in dwellings or toxicological aspects of particular substances.
The book has a good style and is eminently readable. It is firmly grounded in “hard science” and is commendably even handed in the way information is presented. Although, surprisingly perhaps, multiple chemical sensitivity does not even get a mention, there is adequate and measured coverage of sick building syndrome and similar aspects of problem buildings. The chemical, physical, and engineering aspects of indoor air quality and its investigation are generally very well covered in the book, reflecting the author's eminent background and experience in indoor air pollution control and management.
The 13 chapters of the book cover building characteristics, some inorganic contaminants, combustion generated pollutants, organic contaminants, biological contaminants, problem buildings, the investigation of indoor environment problems, measurement of indoor contaminants, source control, ventilation, air cleaning, and regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the book focuses on buildings, although transport environments (including space capsules!) do get a mention in the first chapter. There is something of a United States bias throughout the book, but this is really only noticeable in the section on regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives.
An interesting feature of the book is the provision of a list of questions at the end of each chapter, which help to focus the reader on the important issues covered and presumably also provide important cues to student readers.
In summary, the book provides an excellent introductory overview to almost all aspects of the indoor environment of buildings. Although lacking in depth consideration of the full range of topics it tackles, it has sufficient well sourced information to give a very good flavour of the key issues, and is of very practical value. The book is accessible and up to date; at £59.99 it represents reasonable value for money and should prove a useful resource to both students and indoor air investigators.