Indoor air expert: The cause of indoor air problems may remain a mystery

The measurement of indoor air problems is in need of development. Currently problems are mainly recognised through symptoms.

Indoor air problems are easy to recognise through the symptoms, but it is often challenging to find out the root cause of the problems. Juhani Pirinen, head of a business unit at FCG, specialises in indoor air problems and according to him, the difficulty with finding out the cause of a problem is to do with the inadequate measurement methods.

"Measurements often provide very rough results."

According to Pirinen, finding out the cause of indoor air problems usually requires one to examine the materials. Often the causes are linked to careless construction work.

"For example, thick concrete slabs that were not given enough time to dry may cause problems. It may take over two years for a thick concrete slab to dry and not many builders can wait that long."

Companies specialised in measuring indoor air problems have recently standardised their measurement methods. Standardisation has partly made it easier to measure problem areas.

"It is, however, very typical that no clear cause is found to explain the symptoms."

Pirinen believes that the guideline values used for moisture measurements are too high.

"The guideline values are too close to the point where damage may occur, so the possibility of errors during construction is high."

There is a lot of lively debate over indoor air issues. It's no wonder as many municipalities are feverishly looking for solutions to the challenges caused by indoor air problems. Indoor air, moisture problems, energy efficiency and, for example, the choice of materials involve a lot of data based on measurements and studies, but there are also many perceptions, assumptions and open questions related to the issue. Petri Heljo, head of R&D from Kiilto's construction unit, compiled several statements and prevailing views on indoor air problems. Experienced and respected indoor air specialist Juhani Pirinen then commented on them and we were able to create an interesting series of articles that will be published during the autumn of 2018.