Missouri S&T researcher earns $1 million EPA grant to study climate change effects on indoor air quality

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On July 24, 2015

Dr. Glenn Morrison

Dr. Glenn Morrison

Dr. Glenn Morrison

Dr. Glenn Morrison

Missouri University of Science and Technology will receive a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund research on the impacts of climate change on indoor air quality and resulting health effects.

Dr. Glenn Morrison, professor of environmental engineering, will lead a Missouri S&T research team to investigate “Indoor Exposure to Pollutants Associated with Oxidative Chemistry: Field Studies and Window-Opening Behavior.” The team will seek to further scientific understanding of indoor smog-induced chemistry, and the associated human exposure to chemical products, as it is influenced by natural ventilation, a key adaptation associated with climate change.

“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 the 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,” Burke said.

EPA’s grant to Missouri S&T is among a total of $8 million in grants being awarded to nine institutions as part of the Agency’s continued commitment to improve America’s indoor air quality.

Americans spend the majority of their time indoors, and the impacts from a variety of indoor environmental pollutants and sources of pollution – including radon, mold and moisture, secondhand smoke, indoor wood smoke, and environmental asthma triggers – are well documented. 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.

Climate change has the potential to affect human health in indoor environments directly through a number of variables. Some of these include changes in temperature extremes, changes in infiltration and ventilation, changes in outdoor and indoor allergen levels, pesticide use, and extreme weather. These changes are especially significant for vulnerable populations, including children, those with certain medical conditions and older people.

By understanding how climate impacts the quality of indoor air, this research can be used to help avoid the potential negative impacts of climate change and support a healthy indoor environment where most people spend their time.

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