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MEDIA RELEASE

Wanted: Melbourne Homes With Unflued Gas Heaters for Study

28 August 2003

Did you know that in many homes the levels of air pollution can be higher indoors than they are outdoors?

This is often a result of heating, cooking and other activities undertaken in the home, as well as 'gassing' from furnishings and building materials - especially in new or renovated homes - which can emit pollutants (like 'new car smell').

To further understand indoor air quality, the Australian Government, through the Department of the Environment and Heritage, has commissioned the AWN Consultants - Team Ferrari Environmental consortium, to measure indoor air pollution levels in homes heated by unflued gas heaters.

Measurements have already been taken from homes in Sydney and Canberra and now researchers are looking for Melbourne homes with unflued gas heaters - that is those without a flue or chimney - to continue researching the effects of gas appliances in the home.

Indoor air quality is an important issue for Australians, with the possible health effects of poor indoor air including irritation of the skin, eyes and throat, headache and drowsiness. With many of us spending up to 90% of our time inside buildings, homes and cars, it is important that we improve our understanding of our indoor environment and how we can reduce pollution to that environment.

The Melbourne study has just started and participants are eligible for $50 compensation for any minor inconvenience caused. Most measurements will be taken over 24 hours in each dwelling with samples collected through a tube connected between the house and a vehicle parked outside containing equipment to monitor pollutants. In some homes, a 'badge' that absorbs pollutants will be placed inside the home to assist with recording data.

The study will measure levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide along with the temperature, moisture level and ventilation in each home. The results will provide valuable scientific data to improve knowledge of indoor air quality and the effects of gas appliances on health.

People using an unflued gas heater this winter who are interested in participating in the study can contact Mr Frank Fleer on 03 9758 7299. Mr Fleer is also available for interview.

Mr Fleer is a past President of The Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ), and has considerable experience in the measurement of air quality, publishing many scientific papers.

Media Contacts:
Rachel Hawes (02) 6274 1651
Margot Marshall (02) 6274 2068