An investigation into total volatile organic compound exposure levels in homes and classrooms of asthmatic children in selected sites in Durban.
Maharaj, Santosh Kumar.
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Indoor air quality has become an important health concern due to the number of indoor pollutants and the realization that even minimal exposures to volatile organic compounds may produce direct or indirect adverse health outcomes. Young people are most vulnerable to these poisonous chemicals as they spend much of their times indoors at homes, schools, nurseries and in day care centers. Exposure to volatile organic compounds indoors has been related to asthma and other respiratory symptoms. The adverse effects of air pollution on respiratory health in South Durban have been described in a number of studies. In 2000, a study in the South Durban Basin at Settlers Primary School demonstrated both a high prevalence of respiratory diseases amongst schoolchildren as well as an association between ambient air pollutants and other adverse health outcomes. The South Durban Health Study subsequently undertook a health risk assessment and an epidemiological study investigating this association further on behalf of the eThekwini Municipality. The study highlighted that relatively moderate ambient concentration of N02, NO, PMIO and S02 were strongly and significantly associated with a reduction in lung function among children with persistent asthma. Moreover, attending primary school in South Durban was significantly associated with increased risk from persistent asthma when compared to schools in North Durban. METHODS The descriptive study measured the total volatile organic compound levels within selected homes and schools of asthmatic children in South and North Durban. Recommendations for reducing or mitigating indoor total volatile organic compound exposures were made. The study involved a secondary analysis of data obtained from the South Durban Health Study. The monitoring for total volatile organic compounds within homes and classrooms was undertaken using passive samplers during a 72-hour period and analyzed using a gaschromatography/ mass spectrometry method. Temperature and humidity was assessed using temperature and humidity sensors. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 13. The dataset comprised 140 total volatile organic compound samples from homes and 14 from classrooms. Total volatile organic compounds were measured in microgram per cubic meter (g/m3), temperature in degrees Celsius and relative humidity in percentage of moisture. RESULTS Total volatile organic compounds with levels in households ranging from 17g/m3 to 1440g/m3 and in classrooms ranging from 48g/m3 to 5292g/m3 were measured. The mean levels detected were significantly different in homes and classrooms