Combining Measurements and Models to Predict the Impacts of Climate Change and Weatherization on Indoor Air Quality and Chronic Health Effects in U.S. Residences


EPA Grant Number: R835750
Title: Combining Measurements and Models to Predict the Impacts of Climate Change and Weatherization on Indoor Air Quality and Chronic Health Effects in U.S. Residences

Investigators: Stephens, Brent
Institution: Illinois Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Ilacqua, Vito
Project Period: November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2017 (Extended to October 31, 2018)
Project Amount: $499,974
RFA: Indoor Air and Climate Change (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Climate Change , Air

Objective:

The objectives of this proposal are to use a combination of field measurements and a nationally representative set of dynamic residential indoor air quality models to predict indoor exposures and associated chronic health effects of several priority pollutants of both indoor and outdoor origin across (1) the current residential building stock; (2) the residential building stock under future climate scenarios of 2050 and 2080; and (3) the future building stock under both future climate scenarios and future climate policies that lead to widespread application of weatherization retrofits and turnover of the existing building stock to more energy efficient homes. Testable hypotheses include: (a) meteorological influences in future climate change scenarios will increase risks of chronic health effects of indoor exposures to outdoor pollutants and decrease risks of indoor exposures to indoor-generated pollutants in homes located in cooling-dominated climates due to predicted long-term increases in air infiltration rates; (b) the opposite effects from hypothesis (a) will result in homes located in heating-dominated climates; and (c) widespread weatherization retrofits applied to buildings relying on natural infiltration for ventilation air will decrease risks of indoor exposures to pollutants of outdoor origin but increase risks of exposures to indoor generated pollutants in both measurements and models due to the combined effects of greater air-tightening and lower infiltration factors.

Approach:

A set of nationally representative indoor air quality models will be used to predict long-term concentrations and health risks, with a number of key input parameters informed by results from novel field experiments performed in 30 existing homes both before and after weatherization retrofits are applied. The field measurements will include ventilation rates, infiltration factors, indoor deposition rates, and envelope penetration factors for a number of priority pollutants, including PM2.5, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, ultrafine particles, black carbon, and a number of VOCs and aldehydes.

Expected Results:

Expected outputs include: (1) novel measurements of key factors governing indoor pollutant concentrations in homes both before and after weatherization retrofits are applied; (2) novel model results of the combined impacts of future climate scenarios on indoor concentrations of, and risks associated with, several priority pollutants and associated chronic health effects; and (3) a set of large nationally representative indoor air quality models will be made available online as a free tool for others to use for risk assessment. The expected benefits of this combination of outputs is that stakeholders will be better equipped to address a number of important issues associated with indoor air quality and health in a changing climate. Results will also directly inform solutions to chronic indoor environmental problems in a future climate and therefore improve the public’s ability to protect the environment and human health. Results will also inform weatherization guidelines of the impact of retrofits on indoor air quality and health.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 10 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Indoor exposures, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution, housing, ventilation rates, pollutant infiltration, CONTAM, monitoring, modeling, Midwest, nationwide

Progress and Final Reports:

2015 Progress Report
2016 Progress Report