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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Rutgers Receives EPA Grant to Study the Impact of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality

The department of environmental and occupational health at the Rutgers School of Public Health has been awarded a three-year, nearly $1 million grant by the United States Environmental Protection Agency) (STAR Grant RD-83575901) to investigate the impact of changes in ambient ozone (O3) due to climate change on indoor air quality, as well as cardiovascular health in the elderly. Using a modeling approach, in addition to contemporaneously collected indoor air pollutant measurements and a measure of vascular function, as well as a randomized air cleaner intervention, the study will evaluate the health impacts of changes in indoor ozone and its chemical reaction products in New Jersey and Atlanta.

Kipen preferred
[Photo: Dr. Howard Kipen]

Dr. Howard Kipen, professor and interim chair of environmental and occupational health at the Rutgers School of Public Health and director of the Clinical Research and Occupational Medicine Division at the Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), is the principal investigator for the project. Dr. Panos Georgoupolos, professor and Dr. Qingyu Meng, assistant professor, both of environmental and occupational health, and Dr. Pamela Ohman-Strickland, associate professor of biostatistics are co-investigators at the Rutgers School of Public Health; Dr. Dana Barr, research professor and Dr. Barry Ryan, professor, are co-investigators at the Rollins School Public Health, Emory University.

Although change in air quality due to climate change may vary by region, it is predicted that climate change will increase summertime surface ozone in polluted regions by one – 10ppb over the coming decades, with the largest effects in urban areas and during high pollution episodes. Although buildings can somewhat reduce occupant exposure to outdoor air pollution, outdoor air pollutants, such as ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), do penetrate indoors through infiltration and other processes, resulting in elevated levels of those pollutants indoors and, thus indoor exposure to outdoor air pollutants. Moreover, O3 can react with many volatile organic compounds that are emitted indoors, leading to indoor exposures to a variety of secondary toxic air pollutants, such as formaldehyde and secondary organic aerosols.  Air pollution measured outdoors is well-established to be associated with acute cardiovascular and respiratory (cardiorespiratory) health effects with limited studies of how indoor pollution affects cardiovascular health.

“People spend 90 percent of their time indoors but almost all air pollution health effects are determined as a function of outdoor pollution measurements,” said Dr. Kipen.  “This clinical trial project, conducted in New Brunswick, New Jersey and Atlanta, Georgia, will help us to understand the effect of reducing indoor ozone-driven pollution levels, manipulated by the introduction of portable air cleaners. Noninvasive vascular health effects will be measured as outcomes and the results will be used to model the impact of climate change on ozone-driven health effects.”