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thermal measurement & health

Thermovision and health

We are not going to discuss the use of thermovision measurement in medicine, although this is also an area where it's used.

Usually, in this type of phrasing there's an obvious relationship between the two words, such as nutrition and health, obesity and health, sunbathing and health, so it's obvious what's being discussed.

So what's the relationship between thermovision measurement and health?

There's an undoubted relationship between the state of our health and the environment in which we live. Therefore we try to avoid dust, noise, various kinds of radiation, unhealthy food, harmful atmosphere, just to name a few. Some of these risks can be identified with our senses, such as dust or noise, while others, such as radiation, can have symptoms that appear much later, after a few days, months or even years.

In recent years, advances in science, especially in biology and related areas, allow for more accurate examination of the environment that people live in.

These studies confirm that many thousands of organisms, invisible to the naked eye, are to be found in the environment we live in and that they have been with us from the very beginning. However, the development of civilisation has caused an imbalance between these organisms, and paradoxically in a direction to where they gain an advantage over human beings and other animals. Such organisms include the mould and mildew that live in our homes. Human civilisation has created ideal conditions for the growth of mould and to such an extent that they threaten health and even lives.

The conditions indispensable to the development of mould and mildew are: moisture and temperature. Such conditions can be created in many homes and apartments by:

dampness in the walls from inadequate insulation of heat,

dampness in the walls from inadequate insulation or leaks in water installations,

inadequate room ventilation,

keeping an overly high humidity level in the rooms,

inappropriate use of finishing materials (adhesives, wallpaper, paint, tiles),

the use of inappropriate structural and technological solutions, the consequence of which is obstructed ventilation, increased humidity, local supercooling of partitions,

mistakes in the performance resulting from the simplifications and incomplete knowledge and questionable savings.

The main source of moisture is human activity causing the emission of moisture sometimes in considerable quantities. During sleep a person emits about 50 g/h (grams of water vapour per hour), while during hard work this amount increases to about 300 g/h. A coffee machine generates about 400 g/h, while taking a shower produces about 2500 g/h, and both drying laundry and cooking a meal produce about 2000 g/h. The average emissions of water vapour for a family of four is about 11 kg/24 h – this means 11 litres of water per day is absorbed by the building materials of the room, in the absence of ventilation. The lower the outside temperature, the more limited the air exchange, which causes a significant portion of water vapour (moisture) from the previous day to be retained in the building structure, and the next day brings another 11 kg of water. In this way, the interior of the building, including equipment, clothing, etc., accumulates water in volume, creating local micro conditions for the development of mould and mildew.

In other words, our behaviour creates ecological niches for the growth and reproduction of mould in our apartments and homes. The result of their growth is the biological corrosion of materials (equivalent to physical destruction) where they can reproduce. Destruction as such is not yet a threat as this is only damage of the material, which can be overcome with fewer or higher resources. The product of their propagation is the emission into the atmosphere of extremely toxic compounds called mycotoxins. Their impact on human health is reflected in allergy, inflammation of the respiratory system, disease of the nervous system, kidney, and liver, extending even to cancer in the case of infection by ingestion. By weakening the immune system, they may also lead to numerous other diseases that are not directly caused by mycotoxins and this further complicates the diagnosis. The development of disease can last for months or even years.

Timely preparation of thermovision measurements of a building or apartment can reveal, although they have not been seen so far, areas with high humidity, which can result in outbreaks of fungi and mildew. The identification of such areas is both a diagnosis of a cause or causes of their reasons. Such an examination can be compared with the periodic health check that do not give rise to a surprise to most of us since it is known that prevention is better than cure.

The same situation occurs in the case of a thermographic examination of a building/apartment on the circumstance of the occurrence of local moisture long before mildew is exposed.

In the pictures below present examples of local moisture present in the construction materials indoors.

Functional attic of the building. Local moisture inside the mineral wool insulation, covered from the inside with plasterboard. The video picture shows an area of the reduced temperature that is equal to the area of ​​moisture. The right side of the video picture shows no signs of moisture on the surface.

Areas of supercooling in the functional attic resulting from discontinuity of isolation, no visible signs of supercooling on the inner surface
The same situation as in the photo above, but occurring on a much larger area. Lacks signs of moisture on the outer surface.

In this case, the undercooling is present at the interface of the storey floor with an outer wall. Improper insulation of the floor’s face from the outside causes the supercooling. The situation is aggravated by polystyrene cornice at the joint of both partitions, which considerably impedes the heat transfer between the internal environment, and the partitions in this place – otherwise, it is very effective in maintaining the moisture in this place. Such detail in the interior design combined with errors in workmanship creates conditions for condensation of moisture and the growth of mould.





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