2015 Progress Report: Climate Change, Indoor Ozone and Vascular Function

EPA Grant Number: R835759
Title: Climate Change, Indoor Ozone and Vascular Function
Investigators: Kipen, Howard , Barr, Dana Boyd , Georgopoulos, Panos G. , Meng, Qingyu , Ohman-Strickland, Pamela , Ryan, P. Barry , Weschler, Charles J.
Current Investigators: Kipen, Howard , Barr, Dana Boyd , Georgopoulos, Panos G. , Lioy, Paul J. , Meng, Qingyu , Ohman-Strickland, Pamela , Ryan, P. Barry , Weschler, Charles J.
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , Emory University
Current Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: May 1, 2015 through April 30, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2015 through April 30,2016
Project Amount: $999,975
RFA: Indoor Air and Climate Change (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Climate Change , Air


  1. Examine how changes in ambient O3 as a consequence of climate change in urban areas may affect indoor air quality through both a direct effect on indoor O3 concentration and an indirect effect on indoor chemistry.
  2. Examine whether indoor exposures to air pollutants and cardiorespiratory responses can be modified by the use of a portable air cleaner.
  3. Model climate change impacts on ambient O3 pollution, indoor exposures to O3, O3 /alkene reaction products and cardiovascular health outcomes in the elderly.

Progress Summary:

Objectives 1 and 2:
Based on the original timeline, the project was slated to begin in September 2014. Unfortunately, our funding did not actually begin until May 15, 2015. Thus the start of the study was delayed, although several preliminary activities preceded the funding. Among these activities were the refurbishment of the EndoPAT in New Jersey and the subsequent pilot testing on 20 subjects (10 of whom were 40 years of age or older). The preliminary testing found relatively low intra-subject variability for repeated EndoPAT testing (ICC = 0.7). Also, the study protocol, consent and recruitment materials were developed and submitted to the respective Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) for review.
Pursuant to the start of the study, periodic (monthly/bimonthly) conference calls were conducted between investigators at Emory and Rutgers to finalize the selection of air monitoring equipment and air cleaners. Because the study focus is on the cardiovascular responses in the elderly, each location identified senior housing buildings for recruitment. During outreach, building managers in New Jersey informed investigators that a large percentage of residents were non-English speaking. As expected, some residents are Spanish-speaking, but a surprising majority in one building is Russian-speaking. Consequently, in preparation for recruiting, all study materials were translated into Spanish and Russian and resubmitted to the Rutgers IRB for approval. Part-time student assistants fluent in Russian were hired and added to the study staff to enroll these residents.
As we only collect data from apartments/humans in the high ozone season (May to October in New Jersey, slightly longer in Atlanta), the funding delay prevented any data acquisition in the 2015 ozone season. Sampling began in New Jersey in the 2016 ozone season. To date, we have completed five subjects in New Jersey (four homes, as one was a couple) and none in Atlanta, due to delay in Atlanta receiving and being trained on the EndoPAT machine. Several modifications have been made to the protocol because of our initial recruitment and sampling efforts. The percentage of ineligible subjects in this older population is somewhat higher than we typically experience in our studies of younger populations. Of the 14 subjects who have been screened for the study, three were ineligible due to recent smoking or current diabetes. To compensate for slow recruitment and a relatively high rate of ineligible volunteers, the protocol has been revised in New Jersey to include alternate recruitment efforts—specifically, outreach to community churches and direct mailing to residents of buildings with window air conditioners. Subjects also have had difficulty adjusting to the simultaneous initiation of biomonitoring (EndoPAT and breath samples) and air monitoring. Protocol modifications are being submitted to the IRBs at both locations to conduct the baseline monitoring at an earlier visit, just prior to the start of the air monitoring. In this way, we hope to familiarize subjects to the study procedures more gradually and reduce subject dropout.
Thus, the New Jersey experiences during the 2016 ozone season have refined both recruitment and sampling protocols. Although five completed subjects at this time is fewer than planned, we believe that a full ozone season in both sites (2017) will allow us to complete data collection by October 2017. We will then have almost 8 months before the end of funding to integrate exposure data and biomarker data with the modeling work of Dr. Georgopoulos as outlined in Objective 3 below.
Objective 3
Modeling Task 1 involves the continuing development, testing and refinement of indoor air quality (IAQ) modules that reflect the state-of-the-art in indoor ozone photochemistry. This ongoing process of module development and evaluation takes into account and incorporates findings from recent field and laboratory studies of relevant indoor ozone chemical reactions, such as those with limonene and squalene, while aiming to balance the level of detail in mechanistic physicochemical description incorporated in the modeling algorithms with the need for computational efficiency. The approach for achieving this balance involves evaluation of model sensitivity via both local and global analysis methods. Both chemical mechanism components and alternative zonal flow configurations for representative residential settings are considered in the ongoing sensitivity analysis while a subsequent phase of “second-level” module evaluation and optimization, during the next year, is expected to utilize the new information collected through the present project. The original anticipated timeline of Modeling Task 1 is being adjusted to properly match availability of the information that is being collected from indoor air data collection.
Modeling Task 3 involves the performance of base and future year multiscale simulations of ambient photochemical air quality, employing a customized version of the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model on a regional three-dimensional grid with highest resolutions over the selected study areas. This effort uses a multimodel system currently operational at the Computational Chemodynamics Laboratory (CCL) of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University, which includes, in addition to CMAQ, the Modeling Environment for Total Risk studies in a "One-Atmosphere" framework, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, the Sparse Operator Kernel Emissions model, the Meteorology Chemistry Interface Processor and other computational tools designed to support studies of climate change effects on air quality and human exposures. During the present project reporting period, efforts within Modeling Task 3 have focused, as per the original modeling workplan timeline, primarily on (a) identifying and subsequently extracting and organizing relevant meteorological outcomes of global and continental base and future simulations, and on (b) organizing emission inventories and developing model inputs for base and future air quality simulations focusing on the Eastern United States. Details of the original modeling workplan were adjusted during the current reporting period to account for recent developments in computational modeling tools that are expected to enhance the analyses performed for this project. Specifically, the release of a new version of CMAQ by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which was installed and tested at CCL during the current reporting period, is expected to allow the completion of photochemical grid simulations at a finer horizontal resolution (1 km x 1 km) over the study areas than originally planned. Using this new version of CMAQ, however, requires additional, computationally intensive downscaling of WRF simulations at this finer resolution in a manner consistent with the standard 12 km x 12 km and 4 km x 4 km resolution simulations. Such base-year simulations are currently ongoing at CCL.


Future Activities:

As described above and in the contract.

Supplemental Keywords:

Climate change, indoor ozone, ozone-initialized chemistry, vascular function

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
2016 Progress Report