2016 Progress Report: 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: Chung, Serena
Project Period: November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2017 (Extended to July 31, 2019)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 2015 through October 31,2016
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


The objectives of this research 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 U.S. residential building stock; (2) the current U.S. residential building stock under future climate scenarios of 2050 and 2080; and (3) the future U.S. building stock under future climate scenarios of 2050 and 2080 considering a number of climate policy scenarios that lead to widespread application of weatherization retrofits and turnover of the existing building stock to more energy-efficient homes.

Progress Summary:

Work on this project is progressing approximately as planned. Year 2 consisted of three main activities: (1) constructing and applying indoor air quality (IAQ) models, (2) conducting field measurements and (3) conducting IAQ model set applications. The project team has made substantial progress on each task, and all three tasks are still ongoing and proceeding in a timely manner. Results to date from the field work portion involve applications of pollutant infiltration measurement methods, including measurements conducted (1) in an unoccupied test apartment unit and (2) in 11 residential field sites both before and after weatherization retrofits have occurred (resulting in eight successful tests). These results provide some of the first known measurements of envelope penetration factors for PM2.5, ultrafine particles, and ozone made in residences operating under normal conditions using newly developed rapid test methods, as well as the first known measurements of how these parameters change after weatherization retrofits have occurred. Infiltration factors (i.e., the indoor/outdoor ratio in the absence of indoor sources) have also been measured for these same pollutants, as well as for nitrogen oxides and black carbon. Additionally, we have been steadily progressing towards the IAQ model development and application portion of this project. We have successfully developed a set of nationally representative combined indoor air and building energy models that incorporates a dynamic mass balance model (built in Python) and an off-the-shelf building energy simulation software tool (EnergyPlus). To date, the model has been run for the most current year for which outdoor pollutant and weather data were available (2012), and results have compared well to the literature on residential pollutant concentrations and residential heating and cooling energy use.

Future Activities:

  1. Continue to collect field data in homes before and after retrofits, as well as single- and multi-family homes not undergoing retrofits, following the methods we have already developed/revised. The goal is to target 30 total homes.
  2. Finish developing and then apply the nationally representative residential IAQ model set to meet the stated expected outcomes of this project.
  3. Continue to disseminate results through peer-reviewed publications and engagement with academic and practitioner audiences.

Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 12 publications 3 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Zhao D, Azimi P, Stephens B. Evaluating the long-term health and economic impacts of central residential air filtration for reducing premature mortality associated with indoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) of outdoor origin. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2015;12(7):8448-8479. R835750 (2015)
R835750 (2016)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: IJERPH-Full Text-HTML
  • Abstract: IJERPH-Abstract
  • Other: IJERPH-Full Text-PDF
  • Journal Article Zhao H, Stephens B. A method to measure the ozone penetration factor in residences under infiltration conditions: application in a multifamily apartment unit. Indoor Air 2016;26(4):571-581. R835750 (2015)
    R835750 (2016)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: The Built Environment Research Group-Full Text-PDF
  • Abstract: Wiley Online-Abstract
  • Other: ResearchGate-Abstract & Full Text-PDF
  • Journal Article Zhao H, Stephens B. Using portable particle sizing instrumentation to rapidly measure the penetration of fine and ultrafine particles in unoccupied residences. Indoor Air 2017;27(1):218-229. R835750 (2015)
    R835750 (2016)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Wiley-Full Text-HTML
  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
  • Other: Wiley-Full Text-PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Indoor exposures, ozone, particulate matter, housing, nitrogen dioxide, black carbon, ventilation, infiltration, modeling

    Relevant Websites:

    The Built Environment Research Group | Illinois Institute of Technology Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018