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Indoor Environmental Quality

ETA conducts a broad program of research, technology development, and dissemination activities directed toward improving the health, comfort, and energy efficiency of the indoor environment.

ETA researchers conduct a broad program of research and development with the goals of:

  • reducing the energy used for thermally conditioning and distributing ventilation air in buildings
  • improving indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort and the health and productivity of building occupants
  • understanding human exposures to environmental pollutants found in indoor and outdoor air
  • improving the scientific understanding of factors and processes affecting air quality
  • developing sound science to inform public policy on the most effective ways of reducing hazardous air pollutants

Research on airflow and pollutant transport integrates experimental and modeling research in order to understand the dispersion of airborne pollutants in buildings. The work applies to reducing health risks (for example, in the event of a toxic release in an occupied space), as well as to improving energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

This research addresses the size, composition and sources of biologically active particles, effective control strategies, and the role of particles in climate and visibility.

Scientists conduct research on energy-efficient ventilation, air cleaning, particle control, and health and productivity in commercial buildings. Methods include controlled laboratory studies, extensive multi-disciplinary field studies, modeling, and reviews and syntheses of data.

Epidemiologic research assesses the indoor environmental risk factors for health effects. Experiments and analyses evaluate how indoor environmental quality influences human work performance.

Research on exposures of humans to harmful agents. The work focuses on the development and use of exposure measurement methods and models in health-risk assessments, chemical transport and transformation in the environment, and the health and environmental impacts of energy, industrial, and agricultural systems.

Ventilation and indoor air quality in residential buildings.

Investigators conduct research here to characterize and better understand the sources of airborne volatile, semi-volatile and particulate organic pollutants in the indoor environment. This research includes emissions studies and studies of the physical and chemical processes that govern indoor air pollutant concentrations. The motivation is to contribute to the reduction of potential human health effects.

Research in this area is concerned with regional air quality issues such as:

  • Controlling nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds, to manage tropospheric ozone pollution.
  • Hazardous air pollutants: using science to base standards on rigorously studied risks.
  • Air quality and climate: how does climate influence air quality at a regional or local level?