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A review of air exchange rate models for air pollution exposure assessments

Abstract

A critical aspect of air pollution exposure assessments is estimation of the air exchange rate (AER) for various buildings where people spend their time. The AER, which is the rate of exchange of indoor air with outdoor air, is an important determinant for entry of outdoor air pollutants and for removal of indoor-emitted air pollutants. This paper presents an overview and critical analysis of the scientific literature on empirical and physically based AER models for residential and commercial buildings; the models highlighted here are feasible for exposure assessments as extensive inputs are not required. Models are included for the three types of airflows that can occur across building envelopes: leakage, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. Guidance is provided to select the preferable AER model based on available data, desired temporal resolution, types of airflows, and types of buildings included in the exposure assessment. For exposure assessments with some limited building leakage or AER measurements, strategies are described to reduce AER model uncertainty. This review will facilitate the selection of AER models in support of air pollution exposure assessments.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Jennifer Richmond-Bryant and Vito Ilacqua for review comments and helpful suggestions. Although the manuscript was reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and approved for publication, it may not necessarily reflect official Agency policy. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. Michael Sohn performed this work under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Correspondence to Michael S Breen.

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Breen, M., Schultz, B., Sohn, M. et al. A review of air exchange rate models for air pollution exposure assessments. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 24, 555–563 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.30

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Keywords

  • Air exchange rate models
  • air pollution
  • exposure assessment
  • leakage
  • natural ventilation
  • mechanical ventilation

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