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Title: Impacts of weatherization on indoor air quality: A field study of 514 homes

 [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Seventhwave, Madison WI USA
  2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign IL USA
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Publisher's Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Indoor Air
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 28; Journal Issue: 2; Related Information: CHORUS Timestamp: 2018-02-14 00:50:58; Journal ID: ISSN 0905-6947
Country of Publication:

Citation Formats

Pigg, S., Cautley, D., and Francisco, P. W. Impacts of weatherization on indoor air quality: A field study of 514 homes. Denmark: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/ina.12438.
Pigg, S., Cautley, D., & Francisco, P. W. Impacts of weatherization on indoor air quality: A field study of 514 homes. Denmark. doi:10.1111/ina.12438.
Pigg, S., Cautley, D., and Francisco, P. W. 2017. "Impacts of weatherization on indoor air quality: A field study of 514 homes". Denmark. doi:10.1111/ina.12438.
title = {Impacts of weatherization on indoor air quality: A field study of 514 homes},
author = {Pigg, S. and Cautley, D. and Francisco, P. W.},
abstractNote = {},
doi = {10.1111/ina.12438},
journal = {Indoor Air},
number = 2,
volume = 28,
place = {Denmark},
year = 2017,
month =

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
This content will become publicly available on November 27, 2018
Publisher's Accepted Manuscript

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  • This report summarizes findings from a national field study of indoor air quality parameters in homes treated under the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The study involved testing and monitoring in 514 single-family homes (including mobile homes) located in 35 states and served by 88 local weatherization agencies.
  • Ventilation reduces occupant exposure to indoor contaminants by diluting or removing them. In a multi-zone environment such as a house, every zone will have different dilution rates and contaminant source strengths. The total ventilation rate is the most important factor in determining occupant exposure to given contaminant sources, but the zone-specific distribution of exhaust and supply air and the mixing of ventilation air can play significant roles. Different types of ventilation systems will provide different amounts of mixing depending on several factors such as air leakage, air distribution system, and contaminant source and occupant locations. Most U.S. and Canadian homesmore » have central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, which tend to mix the air; thus, the indoor air in different zones tends to be well mixed for significant fractions of the year. This article reports recent results of investigations to determine the impact of air mixing on exposures of residential occupants to prototypical contaminants of concern. We summarize existing literature and extend past analyses to determine the parameters than affect air mixing as well as the impacts of mixing on occupant exposure, and to draw conclusions that are relevant for standards development and for practitioners designing and installing home ventilation systems. The primary conclusion is that mixing will not substantially affect the mean indoor air quality across a broad population of occupants, homes, and ventilation systems, but it can reduce the number of occupants who are exposed to extreme pollutant levels. If the policy objective is to minimize the number of people exposed above a given pollutant threshold, some amount of mixing will be of net benefit even though it does not benefit average exposure. If the policy is to minimize exposure on average, then mixing air in homes is detrimental and should not be encouraged. We also conclude that most homes in the US have adequate mixing already, but that new, high-performance homes may require additional mixing. Also our results suggest that some differentiation should be made in policies and standards for systems that provide continuous exhaust, thereby reducing relative dose for occupants overall.« less
  • This study was conducted to assess the current impact of natural gas appliances on air quality in California homes. Data were collected via telephone interviews and measurements inside and outside of 352 homes. Passive samplers measured time-resolved CO and time-integrated NO X, NO 2, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde over ~6d periods in November 2011 - April 2012 and October 2012 - March 2013. The fraction of indoor NO X and NO 2 attributable to indoor sources was estimated. NO X, NO 2 and highest 1-h CO were higher in homes that cooked with gas and increased with amount of gas cooking.more » NO X and NO 2 were higher in homes with cooktop pilot burners, relative to gas cooking without pilots. Homes with a pilot burner on a floor or wall furnace had higher kitchen and bedroom NO X and NO 2 compared to homes without a furnace pilot. When scaled to account for varying home size and mixing volume, indoor-attributed bedroom and kitchen NO X and kitchen NO 2 were not higher in homes with wall or floor furnace pilot burners, though bedroom NO 2 was higher. In homes that cooked 4 h or more with gas, self-reported use of kitchen exhaust was associated with lower NO X, NO 2 and highest 1-h CO. Gas appliances were not associated with higher concentrations of formaldehyde or acetaldehyde.« less
  • To improve the indoor air quality in new, high performance homes, a variety of standards and rating programs have been introduced to identify building materials that are designed to have lower emission rates of key contaminants of concern and a number of building materials are being introduced that are certified to these standards. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home program requires certification under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS (IaP) label, which requires the use of PS1 or PS2 certified plywood and OSB; low-formaldehyde emitting wood products; low- or no-VOC paints andmore » coatings as certified by Green Seal Standard GS-11, GreenGuard, SCS Indoor Advantage Gold Standard, MPI Green Performance Standard, or another third party rating program; and Green Label-certified carpet and carpet cushions. However, little is known regarding the efficacy of the IAP requirements in measurably reducing contaminant exposures in homes. The goal of this project is to develop a robust experimental approach and collect preliminary data to support the evaluation of indoor air quality (IAQ) measures linked to IAP-approved low-emitting materials and finishes in new residential homes. To this end, the research team of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) developed a detailed experimental plan to measure IAQ constituents and other parameters, over time, in new homes constructed with materials compliant with IAP’s low-emitting material and ventilation requirements (i.e., section 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 7.2) and similar homes constructed to the state building code with conventional materials. The IAQ in IAP and conventional homes of similar age, location, and construction style is quantified as the differences in the speciated VOC and aldehyde concentrations, normalized to dilution rates. The experimental plan consists of methods to evaluate the difference between low-emitting and “conventional” materials as installed in newly constructed residential homes using both (1) highly controlled, short-term active samples to precisely characterize the building-related chemical emissions and building contents and (2) a week-long passive sample designed to capture the impact of occupant behavior and related activities on measured IAQ contaminant levels indoors. The combination of detailed short-term measurements with the home under controlled/consistent conditions during pre- and post-occupancy and the week-long passive sampling data provide the opportunity to begin to separate the different emission sources and help isolate and quantify variability in the monitored homes. Between April and August 2014, the research team performed pre-occupancy and post-occupancy sampling in one conventional home and two homes built with low-emitting materials that were generally consistent with EPA’s Indoor airPLUS guidelines. However, for a number of reasons, the full experimental plan was not implemented. The project was intended to continue for up to three years to asses long-term changes in IAQ but the project was limited to one calendar year. As a result, several of the primary research questions related to seasonal impacts and the long-term trends in IAQ could not be addressed. In addition, there were several unexpected issues related to recruiting, availability of home types, and difficulty coordinating with builders/realtors/homeowners. Several field monitoring issues also came up that provide “lessons learned” that led to improvements to the original monitoring plan. The project produced a good experimental plan that is expected to be be useful for future efforts collecting data to support answering these same or similar research questions.« less