A simulation model of building intervention impacts on indoor environmental quality, pediatric asthma, and costs
ABSTRACT Although indoor environmental conditions can affect pediatric asthmatic patients, few studies have characterized the effect of building interventions on asthma-related outcomes. Simulation models can evaluate such complex systems but have not been applied in this context.
We sought to evaluate the impact of building interventions on indoor environmental quality and pediatric asthma health care use, and to conduct cost comparisons between intervention and health care costs and energy savings.
We applied our previously developed discrete event simulation model (DEM) to simulate the effect of environmental factors, medication compliance, seasonality, and medical history on (1) pollutant concentrations indoors and (2) asthma outcomes in low-income multifamily housing. We estimated health care use and costs at baseline and subsequent to interventions, and then compared health care costs with energy savings and intervention costs.
Interventions, such as integrated pest management and repairing kitchen exhaust fans, led to 7% to 12% reductions in serious asthma events with 1- to 3-year payback periods. Weatherization efforts targeted solely toward tightening a building envelope led to 20% more serious asthma events, but bundling with repairing kitchen exhaust fans and eliminating indoor sources (eg, gas stoves or smokers) mitigated this effect.
Our pediatric asthma model provides a tool to prioritize individual and bundled building interventions based on their effects on health and costs, highlighting the tradeoffs between weatherization, indoor air quality, and health. Our work bridges the gap between clinical and environmental health sciences by increasing physicians' understanding of the effect that home environmental changes can have on their patients' asthma.
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ABSTRACT: Objective Many interventions to reduce allergen levels in the home are recommended to asthma and allergy patients. One that is readily available and can be highly effective is the use of high performing filters in forced air ventilation systems. Methods We conducted a modeling analysis of the effectiveness of filter-based interventions in the home to reduce airborne asthma and allergy triggers. This work used “each pass removal efficiency” applied to health-relevant size fractions of particles to assess filter performance. We assessed effectiveness for key allergy and asthma triggers based on applicable particle sizes for cat allergen, indoor and outdoor sources of particles <2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5), and airborne influenza and rhinovirus. Results Our analysis finds that higher performing filters can have significant impacts on indoor particle pollutant levels. Filters with removal efficiencies of >70% for cat dander particles, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and respiratory virus can lower concentrations of those asthma triggers and allergens in indoor air of the home by >50%. Very high removal efficiency filters, such as those rated a 16 on the nationally recognized Minimum Efficiency Removal Value (MERV) rating system, tend to be only marginally more effective than MERV12 or 13 rated filters. Conclusions The results of this analysis indicate that use of a MERV12 or higher performing air filter in home ventilation systems can effectively reduce indoor levels of these common asthma and allergy triggers. These reductions in airborne allergens in turn may help reduce allergy and asthma symptoms, especially if employed in conjunction with other environmental management measures recommended for allergy and asthma patients.Journal of Asthma 02/2014; 51(6). DOI:10.3109/02770903.2014.895011 · 1.83 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: For many policy analyses, including but not limited to cumulative risk assessments, it is important to characterize the individual and joint health effects of multiple stressors. With an increasing focus on psychosocial and other nonchemical stressors, this often includes epidemiological meta-analysis. Meta-analysis has limitations if epidemiological studies do not include all of the stressors of interest or do not provide multivariable outputs in a format necessary for risk assessment. Given these limitations, novel analytical methods are often needed to synthesize the published literature or to build upon available evidence. In this article, we discuss three recent case studies that highlight the strengths and limitations of meta-analytic approaches and other research synthesis techniques for human health risk assessment applications. First, a literature-based meta-analysis within a risk assessment context informed the design of a new epidemiological investigation of the differential toxicity of fine particulate matter constituents. Second, a literature synthesis for an effects-based cumulative risk assessment of hypertension risk factors led to a decision to develop new epidemiological associations using structural equation modeling. Third, discrete event simulation modeling was used to simulate the impact of changes in the built environment on environmental exposures and associated asthma outcomes, linking literature meta-analyses for key associations with a simulation model to synthesize all of the model components. These case studies emphasize the importance of conducting epidemiology with a risk assessment application in mind, the need for interdisciplinary collaboration, and the value of advanced analytical methods to synthesize epidemiological and other evidence for risk assessment applications.Risk Analysis 04/2014; 35(6). DOI:10.1111/risa.12208 · 1.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Indoor air quality (IAQ) is considered an important determinant of human health. The association between exposure to volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, house dust mite, molds and bacteria in day care centers (DCC) is not completely clear. The aim of this project was to study these effects. This study comprised two phases. Phase I included an evaluation of 45 DCCs (25 from Lisbon and 20 from Oporto, targeting 5161 children). In this phase, building characteristics, indoor CO2 and air temperature/relative humidity, were assessed. A children's respiratory health questionnaire derived from the ISAAC (International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Children) was also distributed. Phase II encompassed two evaluations and included 20 DCCs selected from phase I after a cluster analysis (11 from Lisbon and 9 from Oporto, targeting 2287 children). In this phase, data on ventilation, IAQ, thermal comfort parameters, respiratory and allergic health, airway inflammation biomarkers, respiratory virus infection patterns and parental and child stress were collected. In Phase I, building characteristics, occupant behavior and ventilation surrogates were collected from all DCCs. The response rate of the questionnaire was 61.7% (3186 children). Phase II included 1221 children. Association results between DCC characteristics, IAQ and health outcomes will be provided in order to support recommendations on IAQ and children's health. A building ventilation model will also be developed. This paper outlines methods that might be implemented by other investigators conducting studies on the association between respiratory health and indoor air quality at DCC.Revista portuguesa de pneumologia 04/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.rppneu.2014.02.006 · 0.86 Impact Factor