Nuno Canha, a researcher from the Centre for Nuclear Sciences and Technologies, has been interviewed by Reuters about his scientific studies on the importance of indoor air quality during sleep. In this interview, Nuno shares his knowledge, and explains the findings communicated on a recently published article on the topic, in line with the works he has been involved in.
His work focuses on the impact bedroom ventilation (opening doors and/or windows) has on the air quality breathe during sleep . Severe reduction of bedroom ventilation leads to an accumulation of pollutants - particulate matter (PM 2.5) and total volatile organic compounds - at levels that can easily be well above the limits established by the Portuguese law. Throughout winter, people tend to keep the rooms closed in order to maintain temperature at a comfortable level. However, this typical behavior may contribute to the accumulation of pollutants leadind to possible unwanted health effects that will depend on the particular sources present inside the room.
Nuno also participates in the project LIFE Index-Air, financed by the European Union program LIFE. The project aims at evaluating integrated exposition of people to pollutants (for a period of 24 hours) considering all the locations where they go about their lives, including their homes.
To be certain that we keep good indoor air quality in our homes, it is important to assure proper ventilation and to be able to identify possible pollutant emission sources. In this way unwanted consequences to our health might be prevented. Normally, we do not think about candles, incense, cleaning products or even activities like cooking or vacuum cleaning as pollutants sources. However, they can promote the emission of a large variety of pollutants (particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde and others). To minimize both the exposition and impact in our health it is essential to ventilate rooms frequently in order to dilute the pollutants present inside. Special attention should be given to the rooms where we sleep, inside which we spend a considerable amount of time.
 N. Canha, J. Lage, S. Candeias, C. Alves, S.M. Almeida (2017) Indoor air quality during sleep: characterisation and variability under different ventilation patterns. Atmospheric Pollution Research 8(6), 1132-1142. DOI: 10.1016/j.apr.2017.05.004