Perceived indoor environment and probability of abnormal indoor air exposure in health care workplaces

Katja Tähtinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

An abnormal indoor air (IA) exposure probability assessment is often needed to identify indoor environmental (IE) risks and their extent in office-type workplaces. The assessment and categorisation of the probability of abnormal IA exposure is used as part of a workplace's health significance assessment. There is little research on this method or how its results are associated with employees' IE-related complaints, symptoms, group-level health information, and perceived psychosocial work environment. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of IE-related symptoms, complaints, perceived psychosocial work environment; and the association between the probability of abnormal IA exposure categories and IE-related symptoms, complaints, perceived psychosocial work environment and group-level health information on employees in health care workplaces. The study provides new reference material to interpret IE questionnaire results at these workplaces. Data I were collected from workplaces (office, school, health care) using the MM-40 based IE questionnaire and consisted of 28 826 employees' responses. Data II–III comprised an assessment of the probability of abnormal IA exposure in 27 investigated hospital buildings, IE questionnaire responses of 2669 employees, and health information on employee health. Data were collected in 2011–2017. Health care employees more often reported IE-related symptoms and complaints than office or school employees. There was no statistical association between abnormal IA exposure and the employees' perceived IE-related complaints, symptoms, health information and perceived psychosocial work environment. However, there was a link between employees' perceived mould odour and detected mould damage. The results showed an association between ventilation deficiencies and perceived IE. When there are multiple sources of impurities in the IA and deficient ventilation in premises, many environmental factors may affect symptoms and complaints. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly follow the building technology and IAQ investigation process to evaluate the factors that may influence the IE. Regardless of the probability of abnormal IA exposure category, employees' experience of the IE may vary. There was no association between the probability categories of abnormal IA exposure and the occupational health services' group-level health information. The IE questionnaire results only partly predicted the building-related problems and conversely, the probability of abnormal IA exposure was only partly associated with perceived IE. Organisational and individual factors may also influence perceived IE. Therefore, possible IE-problems should be evaluated multi-professionally. Most of the common IA impurity sources and their impact on IA can be identified, and the method of assessing the probability of abnormal IA exposure provides a holistic picture of the factors' impact on IE.
Translated title of the contributionKoettu sisäympäristö ja altistumisolosuhteet terveydenhuollon työpaikoilla
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Salonen, Heidi, Supervising Professor
  • Lappalainen, Sanna, Thesis Advisor, External person
  • Karvala, Kirsi, Thesis Advisor
  • Al-Neshawy, Fahim, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0006-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0007-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Keywords

  • indoor environment
  • exposure
  • indoor air
  • questionnaire
  • building technology
  • health care workplaces

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