Air Pollutant Concentrations in the Vicinity of Buildings: Model Development and Evaluation

EPA Grant Number: R826156
Title: Air Pollutant Concentrations in the Vicinity of Buildings: Model Development and Evaluation
Investigators: Peterson, Holly G. , Schulman, Lloyd , Stock, David
Current Investigators: Peterson, Holly G. , Lamb, Brian , Schulman, Lloyd , Stock, David
Institution: Montana Tech of the University of Montana
Current Institution: Montana Tech of the University of Montana , Washington State University
EPA Project Officer: Shapiro, Paul
Project Period: October 1, 1997 through September 30, 2000
Project Amount: $360,011
RFA: Exploratory Research - Physics (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Land and Waste Management , Air , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry


This research is proposed to complete the development and evaluation of building plume downwash models for predicting both mean and peak fluctuating concentrations of air toxics and air pollutants in the immediate vicinity of buildings. A new building downwash model, PRIME, was recently developed using data from fluid modeling conducted at the EPA Meteorological Wind Tunnel and from a field study at a New Jersey electric generating station. Few, if any, of the data sets available to evaluate PRIME include measured concentrations in the cavity of the building, and there are a number of issues to be resolved. Specifically, the fraction of plume mass captured in the cavity for a given source configuration is a critical aspect of the near wake calculation, but there are little data to guide this specification in PRIME. Secondly, PRIME addresses the behavior of a plume within the cavity in terms of a diffusion rate and a residence time, but more data are needed to confirm this treatment. Thirdly, there are few measurements to characterize the enhanced dispersion of plumes in the building wake. Fourthly, atmospheric stability and wind angle to the building are important features in PRIME, but there remains limited information related to these effects in the real world. Finally, PRIME only addresses one-hour average concentrations and does not predict concentration variance nor peak short term concentrations.


The issues described above will be addressed via experimental and modeling approaches. An intensive field program will be conducted to collect turbulence and plume dispersion data in the near and far wake regions of a building. Perfluorocarbon and SF6 tracers will be used to measure mean and fluctuating concentrations in the near and far wake regions for various source configurations, atmospheric stabilities, and wind conditions. Also, an advanced numerical finite element model will be employed to simulate the field experiments. Finally, results from the fieldwork and from the model application will be used to evaluate the current PRIME model and to investigate methods for predicting concentration variance.

Expected Results:

The end products will be a detailed full-scale database of mean and fluctuating concentrations, an evaluated PRIME building downwash model, and a more complete understanding of the behavior of air toxics and pollutants in the vicinity of buildings.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 9 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

air pollutants, air toxics, building effects, downwash models, tracer experiments, concentration fluctuations., Scientific Discipline, Air, Physics, Environmental Chemistry, Atmospheric Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, aerosol particles, building vicinity, database development, air pollution concentrations, building plume downwash models, air pollution, atmospheric stability, plume dispersion model, tracer experiment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998 Progress Report
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report