Accessible Indoor Air in the Built Environment
This project has been funded in part by Accessibility Standards Canada, Government of Canada, with ethics approval from the Women’s College Hospital, Toronto
We are pleased to announce our research project on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and accessibility in the built environment for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), other disabilities and health conditions. Our main focus and priority area of research lies within the built environment, which includes the physical spaces constructed by people for human activities (such as buildings and urban areas where people live, work, play, or visit). Our research delves into how practices, space design, and building materials used within these spaces impact indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality plays a critical role in the well-being and accessibility of built environments. Canadians spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, making the quality of indoor air a crucial aspect of their daily lives. For individuals with certain disabilities, the quality of indoor air can become a barrier to accessing employment, programs, and services. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are sources of indoor air pollution, are commonly found in cleaning products and personal care items. The usage of these products thus contributes to indoor VOC levels.
Our research aims to address the pressing need for studying built environments and accessible indoor air. By conducting extensive research on indoor air quality, we hope to identify potential barriers that hinder accessibility and propose solutions to create more inclusive and healthy built environments.
The study aims to focus on five key areas related to indoor air quality improvement and accessibility in the built environment:
- Identify correlations between built environment characteristics and indoor air quality testing results.
- Understand how IAQ policies are interpreted by administrators and building operators.
- Explore the relationship between occupant comfort and indoor air quality.
- Assess knowledge and awareness of indoor air quality maintenance among stakeholders.
- Understand attitudes and beliefs towards IAQ policies for better policy development.
Indoor Air Quality Testing
We will sample and analyze indoor air quality in buildings with fragrance/scent-free policies and compare them to spaces without such policies. This data will identify airborne contaminants and their likely sources.
Building Characteristics Survey
A detailed survey will record information about each assessed space, including building age, materials, HVAC systems, occupancy type, and the presence of IAQ-related products like air fresheners.
Through this survey, we will examine the elements and implementation of IAQ policies, as well as the ease of reporting and monitoring compliance. Additionally, perceived barriers to IAQ policies will be explored.
A survey administered to all building occupants will gather information about their comfort levels, symptoms attributable to IAQ, existing health conditions, and support for fragrance/scent-free policies.
How to participate:
Recruitment poster available for download
Join the Focus Groups!
We are searching for participants to join our focus groups and share their experiences.
To be a part of our focus group, kindly complete the pre-screening questionnaire by following the provided link: https://dfcmutorontoca.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AZfkcWUbYAnqgS
Do you know individuals in your network or community who experience discomfort or symptoms from exposure to fragrances, including scented and other products and who face IAQ-related challenges that impact accessibility to the workplace, health care, or the community due to MCS, other disabilities or health conditions? If so, please consider sharing our screening questionnaire link with them: https://dfcmutorontoca.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AZfkcWUbYAnqgS
Assist in the recruitment of scent-free environments/spaces
Have you ever come across scent-free environments/spaces in educational institutions or workplaces?
If so, we kindly request that you share with us the names and locations of these buildings using our form: https://forms.gle/tktpq1C3TVZZPW7B9
Funders and partners:
We extend our sincere gratitude to our valued funder, collaborators, and consultants:
|Accessibility Standards Canada
|ARCH Disability Law Center
|Professor Arthur Chan PhD., Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto
|British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
|Associate Professor Caroline Barakat PhD, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University
|Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN)
|Disability Without Poverty
|DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN Canada)
|Environmental Health Association of Canada – L’Association pour la santé environnementale du Canada
|John Molot MD FCFP(LM), University of Ottawa
|Professor Jean-Phillippe Bellenger Laboratoire de Biogéochimie des milieux continentaux, Département de Chimie, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke
|Dr. Riina Bray BASc, MSc, MD, FCFP, MHSc Medical Director, Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital
|Professor Sami Haddad Ph.D, Dept of Occupational and Environmental Health, Université de Montréal
If you encounter any challenges or require assistance while completing the survey, have inquiries about participating in the focus group or understanding the research objectives, or would like to know more about our efforts to enhance indoor air quality and accessibility in the built environment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us: