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News Releases from Region 10

Three Northwest Institutions Receive Funding from EPA for Research to Better Understand the Effects of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality

Contact Information: 
Brianna Stoutenburgh EPA Public Affairs (stoutenburgh.brianna@epa.gov)

(Seattle - July 28, 2015) On July 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its continued commitment to improving America's indoor air quality by providing almost $8 million to fund nine institutions, including three in the Northwest, researching the impacts of climate change on indoor air quality and the resulting health effects.

Washington State University, University of Oregon and Portland State University will receive nearly $1 million each to devote towards indoor air quality research.

"This research will help us better understand the effects of climate change on indoor air quality," said Tom Burke, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research in EPA's Office of Research and Development and the Agency's Science Advisor. "Gaining a better understanding of the interaction between air quality, climate, and energy in an indoor environment will help guide the design of buildings and provide knowledge to respond effectively to changes in indoor air quality that will better protect human health."

The projects being funded in the Northwest are:

Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.

Integrated Measurements and Modeling Using US Smart Homes to Assess Climate Change Impacts on Indoor Air Quality

Washington State University will conduct research to better understand the relationships between local climate change, air quality, energy consumption, ventilation rates, occupant behavior and indoor pollution through the use of a Smart Home indoor air quality database.

University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.

Impacts of Weatherization on Microbial Ecology and Human Health

The University of Oregon will look at the quantitative change in indoor microorganisms before and after modification for better energy use. This project will also look at how the microbial composition of indoor air is affected by outside seasonal air, household building operation attitudes and behaviors before and after weatherization.

Portland State University, Portland, Ore.

Determinants of Indoor and Outdoor Exposure to Ozone and Extreme Heat in a Warming Climate and the Health Risks for an Aging Population

Portland State University will focus on developing a model that characterizes current and future health risks of an older population to urban ozone and extreme heat, indoors and outdoors. This research will also strive to improve the understanding of how emerging trends in building design and management practices affect indoor air quality and what can be done to reduce negative health effects during high ozone and extreme heat situations.

The connection between climate change and indoor air quality, however, is not well understood. Poor indoor environmental quality creates health problems and climate change may worsen existing indoor environmental problems and introduce new ones. Indoor air pollutants include radon, mold, moisture, secondhand smoke, indoor wood smoke, and environmental asthma triggers.

Indoor air quality, climate change and human health are all linked in numerous other ways. The research provided by the funding granted to these universities will help the public, and state and local regulators, make more informed decisions on energy use, climate change, and health.

More information on the projects that are receiving funding from the EPA: Understanding the Effects of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality and Public Health (PDF) (2 pp, 192K)