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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessment of occupant-behavior-based indoor air quality and its impacts on human exposure risk: A case study based on the wildfires in Northern California

  • Author(s): Luo, N
  • Weng, W
  • Xu, X
  • Hong, T
  • Fu, M
  • Sun, K
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. The recent wildfires in California, U.S., have caused not only significant losses to human life and property, but also serious environmental and health issues. Ambient air pollution from combustion during the fires could increase indoor exposure risks to toxic gases and particles, further exacerbating respiratory conditions. This work aims at addressing existing knowledge gaps in understanding how indoor air quality is affected by outdoor air pollutants during wildfires—by taking into account occupant behaviors (e.g., movement, operation of windows and air-conditioning) which strongly influence building performance and occupant comfort. A novel modeling framework was developed to simulate the indoor exposure risks considering the impact of occupant behaviors by integrating building energy and occupant behaviour modeling with computational fluid dynamics simulation. Occupant behaviors were found to exert significant impacts on indoor air flow patterns and pollutant concentrations, based on which, certain behaviors are recommended during wildfires. Further, the actual respiratory injury level under such outdoor conditions was predicted. The modeling framework and the findings enable a deeper understanding of the actual health impacts of wildfires, as well as informing strategies for mitigating occupant health risk during wildfires.

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