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Air quality within reconstructed houses as an issue for staff, visitors and others

Date: 
Monday, 1 July, 2013 to Saturday, 30 November, 2013
Responsible: 
Jannie Marie Christensen
Linda Hurcombe
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 
30

Due to the use of soilid fuels in open fireplaces, fireplaces with chimneys and/or ovens, in archaeological house reconstructions, there are a number of air quality risk factors that need to be considered. To explore air quality issues in more detail, I undertook two air quality studies at two archaeological open-air museum in 2013.

Stone Age Park, Dithmarschen, Albersdorf, Germany: Measurements of air quality in two houses were taken when the houses were in use for one week during July 2013 by eight students.

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, Wales: Measurements of air quality were taken in three houses for two months from September – November 2013 by 22 participants.

Types of measurements taken included:
• Carbon monoxide (CO) every minute near fireplace
• Carbon monoxide each minute near seating area
• Personal exposure to carbon monoxide every minute
• Carbon monoxide levels outside
• Temperature (temp) every ten minutes near fireplace, seating area and outside
• Estimated particle matter PM2.5 levels (estimated from the carbon monoxide levels from equations from other houses)
Results from these measurements demonstrate that:
• Temperature measurements corresponded well with the carbon monoxide levels when the fire was lit in the houses.
• Carbon monoxide levels were found to be higher in houses without chimneys
• Carbon monoxide levels were found to be higher in houses having more than one fireplace.
• Personal exposure to carbon monoxide varied, but was higher for participants working near fires.
• Short-term carbon monoxide poisoning levels were measured in some places.
• Levels above WHO CO guideline limit for 8 and 24 hours was measured in some places.

From the results, it is possible to suggest that roof constructions along with the number and location of chimneys and/or roof holes are important considerations when building reconstructions to ensure better air quality for staff and visitors. There is also a need to have a better awareness of levels of CO and particle matter PM2.5 (which was estimated in this study), the within the reconstructed buildings and the need to monitor air quality.

Images

Students wearing moniters
One of the reconstructed houses at...