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    Review of 'Indoor air quality and early detection of mould growth in residential buildings: a case study'

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    Indoor air quality and early detection of mould growth in residential buildings: a case studyCrossref
    An interesting case study into a dwelling with severe indoor environment problems
    Average rating:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Competing interests:
    None

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    Indoor air quality and early detection of mould growth in residential buildings: a case study

    Mould growth affects 1 in 3 homes, and it is the biggest cause for complaints and litigations filed to the relevant authorities in Australia, while significantly affecting the physical and psychological health of the building occupants. Indoor mould is caused by excessive dampness, resulting from poor architectural specification, construction and maintenance practices, as well as inappropriate occupants’ behaviour. The consequences range from early biodeterioration of building materials, requiring anticipated renovation works, to deterioration of the indoor environment, posing a serious threat to the building occupants. This study investigates indoor air quality and mould growth, providing a snapshot of the current indoor air quality of Australian residential buildings regarding air pollutants. It uses a case study representative of the typical Australian suburban home to investigate the effects of unnoticed mould growth. Results of the monitoring campaign indicate that buildings with a high concentration of fungal spores are also more likely to present poor indoor air quality levels, high concentrations of particulate matters (PM 10 and PM 2.5 ) and CO 2 . This research suggests the need for the development of early detection strategies that could minimize the health hazard to people, thereby preventing the need for a major renovation.
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      Review information

      10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-ARCH.ARJ0GF.v1.RSCKJU
      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Civil engineering,Architectural design
      hygrothermal ,mould growth,indoor air quality ,Sustainability in architecture and the built environment,Energy and health,indoor environment,sustainability,health,Sustainable and resilient cities
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      Keywords:

      Review text

      Thanks for the opportunity to read this interesting paper. It presents a thorough investigation of a home with severe mould and IEQ issues in Canberra, Australia. I think it is a useful contribution.

      My major comment is that I think the authors need to be a bit more careful with their conclusions and generalising the results. For example, in the conclusions they state “Buildings with a high concentration of fungal spores are also more likely to present poor IAQ, high concentrations of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), as well as a high level of CO2.” This was certainly the case in the studied building, but I am not sure you can generalise this to all buildings.

      More minor comments:

      Introduction

      •  I appreciate what you mean by occupant habits being a risk factor. But, something like having a cold home – and increasing the risk of damp – may not necessarily be a habit or choice, but a result of fuel poverty.

      section 3.1

      • were any mechanical ventilation systems present?
      • raspatory should be respiratory

      section 3.2

      • Can you give more information on the air sampling? What equipment, what is FS, how was it counted? Did you follow any standard monitoring methods?
      • in my experience, the kitchen can have higher levels of mould due to undetected leaks in the sink cabinet
      • Figure 3 – I think it would be best to remove the measurements for 29/8-31/08. I initially interpreted it as CO2 dropping to zero, which is not the case.

      Conclusions

      I am not convinced that the evidence supports the conclusions. At least “Buildings with a high concentration of fungal spores are also more likely to present poor IAQ, high concentrations of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), as well as a high level of CO2.” Yes, mould spores could be detected as PM, and CO2 is often used as a proxy for ventilation if there are indoor CO2 sources. But, with CO2 for example: there can be other causes of mould than just ventilation issues - for example damp and mould due to damage. So, I urge caution when in the conclusions, and would avoid generalising this based on the results of a case study investigation. Perhaps, though, the methods could be a easy low-threshold way of investigating possible problems prior to air sampling

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