Progresses and Challenges on Indoor Air Quality in California
The objective of this study is to provide an update to “Report to the California Legislature: Indoor Air Pollution in California”. This report was released in 2005 as required by Assembly Bill 1173. The researchers will conduct a comprehensive literature review, interview various stakeholders, synthesize the progress on research findings, public perspectives, and policy development around indoor air since 2005, and provide recommendations on future research, programs, and policy development to improve indoor air quality in California. The researchers will consolidate this information into an updated report. This updated report will provide updated information to the public and help CARB and other agencies in their efforts to reduce indoor air pollution exposures and improve public health.
Californians spend an average of 87 percent of their time indoors, where many air pollution sources are present such as consumer products, gas appliances, building materials, fumes from smoking and vaping, and furniture. Chemicals and particulates from these indoor sources can all contribute to indoor air quality problems. In addition, building envelopes confine air movement and limit the dilution of air pollutants released indoors. Because of the extended period of time spent indoors, people's proximity to indoor air pollution sources, and the trapping effect of building envelopes, indoor air contributes a critical part of people’s exposures to air pollutants.
Health effects associated with indoor air pollutants are significant. Many studies have shown that these pollutants can cause health effects such as irritant effects, asthma, allergies, cancer, respiratory and heart disease, and premature death. Irritant effects include eye, nose, throat, and respiratory tract irritation caused by direct exposures to pollutants and oxidants. These symptoms are sometimes associated with sick building syndrome. Premature death and respiratory disease are linked to many pollutants found in indoor environments such as particle pollution, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and ozone.
To understand the ramifications of indoor air pollution in California and provide scientific evidence for indoor air pollutant control strategies, CARB staff compiled a comprehensive report on indoor air pollution, including information on the health effects and sources of indoor pollutants; the effects of existing regulations and industry practices; and possible mitigation options for homes, schools and non-industrial workplaces. The report was submitted to the Legislature in July 2005 and is available on the CARB website1. Since then, California had made significant efforts to reduce indoor air pollution. These included limiting the sale of air cleaning devices with unhealthy ozone emissions, setting formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products, setting VOC emission standards for building materials in CalGreen building code, and providing support for strengthening requirements on ventilation and filtration in California’s building energy code. All these efforts have contributed to better indoor air quality in California
However, since the report was completed, there have been new emerging challenges that impact indoor air quality along with new tools for indoor air quality assessment. New building materials, consumer products, and home appliances may introduce air pollutants, which haven’t been investigated previously, into the indoor environment, either as direct emissions or as a result of chemical reaction(s) with other pollutants present indoors. Tighter building envelopes due to more stringent energy efficiency requirements may impact indoor air pollutant removal. Wildfire and extreme heat waves have become more and more frequent, which also impacts indoor air. Building decarbonization, an important step to achieve the State’s greenhouse gas reduction goal, will change the sources of energy used in both residential and commercial buildings and can impact what occupants breathe indoors. To help address these new challenges and opportunities, science and research has also advanced since the 2005 report to better assess indoor air quality, estimate indoor exposures, provide strategies to mitigate indoor air pollutants, and understand health impacts from indoor air pollution.
Therefore, CARB is solicitating a proposal to update the 2005 Indoor Air Pollution Report by conducting a comprehensive literature review and interviews with relevant stakeholders on indoor air quality topics and consolidating the information into a report for public use. The scope of this updated report will cover the air pollutants commonly found in indoor environments; communicable diseases, while they are an important topic for indoor environment, will not be the subject of this update. The updated report will advance CARB’s understanding of indoor air quality concerns in California, provide updated information to the public, and help CARB and other agencies to prioritize their efforts for indoor air pollution control and public health enhancement.
Scope of Work
Task 1. Kick-off Meeting and Progress Update
At the beginning of the project, a kick-off meeting will be held with CARB staff to discuss the details and timeline of the project. Quarterly progress reports will be prepared and delivered to CARB every three months with each invoice, containing brief narrative summaries of achievements, the state of progress relative to the plans, and any significant problems encountered along with a brief description of the solutions.
Task 2. Environmental Justice Partners
The researchers should partner with one or several environmental justice organizations throughout this project. The roles of environmental justice partners will be (1) assist the design of interview questions related to impacted communities and recruit interviewees from impacted communities for task 4, (2)present in the public workshop describe in task 5 and encourage the participation from impacted communities in the workshop, (3) assist the development of Indoor Air Report, including prioritization of indoor air pollution concerns and review of health information from environmental justice lens, and (4) distribute the educational materials from this project to impacted communities and collect feedback if any.
Task 3. Literature Review
The researchers should conduct a comprehensive review of peer-reviewed articles, research reports by research institutes and government agencies, consumer product reports, product marketing materials, relevant databases, and case studies since 2005, including, but not limiting to, the topics below:
1. Indoor air pollutants and sources, with a focus on ozone and ozone emitting air cleaning devices, natural gas combustion emissions (e.g., NO2) and natural gas appliances, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and their sources, wildfires, and others identified through interviews as specified in task 3.
2. Levels of typical indoor air pollutants in different indoor environments.
3. Other parameters related to indoor air quality and exposures. Examples include occupants’ time activity patterns, building characteristics, air exchanges between indoor and outdoor environmental, and air pollutant generation and removal mechanisms and rates.
4. Health impacts of indoor air pollutant exposures, including results from epidemiological studies, sensitive subgroups (e.g., children, seniors, EJ communities), and methods to quantify health impacts of indoor air.
5. Standards and guidelines related to indoor air, including those on buildings, materials, and products that impact indoor air.
6. Policies and programs related to improving indoor air or reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants at the local, state, and national levels.
7. Effectiveness of strategies to reduce indoor air pollutants including education and behavior change.
Task 4. Interviews
In consultation with CARB staff, the researchers should conduct interviews with relevant stakeholders on their understanding and opinions about indoor air. The potential candidates for interview include:
Program staff of the federal, state, and local agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Health Services, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Public Health, and local air districts.
Researchers who have extensive knowledge on indoor air pollutant, sources, monitoring, health impacts and other relevant topics
California residents, especially those from impacted communities, with a coverage of different geographic location, housing type, race/ethnicity, and outdoor source,
Owners, property managers, environmental health specialists, or occupants of non-residential, non-industrial buildings, such as schools, offices, retails, and restaurants.
Other relevant stakeholders such as standard entities, non-profit organizations, and appliance/product manufacturer associations.
In consultation with CARB staff, the researchers will develop questions for interview to collect information regarding:
Major indoor air quality concerns in different buildings
Technologies, practices, and products that can impact indoor air quality
Decision making for issues related to indoor air quality
Challenges that impacted communities are facing to address their indoor air concerns
Resources and supports needed for different populations and building types to improve indoor air quality
Authority on indoor air at different levels of government agencies, and existing standards, guidelines, programs, and policies related to indoor air
Suggestions for future indoor air research, policy, and program development
Task 5. Public Workshop
The researcher will host a virtual public workshop to seek input to inform the update of Indoor Air Report from various stakeholders, such as policy makers, building experts, environmental justice advocates, academic researchers, and the public. In the workshop, the researchers should provide a summary of the results from literature review and interviews, present an overview of the key information that will be included in the updated Indoor Air Report, draft prioritization of indoor air pollution sources, and discuss the major challenges for achieving better indoor air quality in California. Written and oral comments from the public workshop and the discussion should be documented and incorporated into the Indoor Air Report.
Task 6. Indoor Air Report
The researchers will summarize the findings from literature review, interviews and public workshop into a written report that would be made available, after agency review and input, to the public. As an update to the 2005 Indoor Air Pollution Report, the report will provide a comprehensive synthesis of information that has been advanced since 2005, including:
New or persisting indoor air quality concerns
New data that help assess indoor air quality and exposures
New evidence and tools on estimating health impacts of indoor air pollution
Identification of factors which may lead to disproportionate exposures to indoor air pollutants especially in impacted communities
Advancement of understanding, methods and technologies that help improve indoor air quality
Updated prioritization of sources and pollutants, including designation of indoor air pollutants into high, medium or lower categories, with regard to health impact and need for pursing control strategies. In developing the prioritization, the researchers will include consideration of environmental equity and equitable transitions to cleaner technologies to reduce indoor air pollution.
Progress of policies and programs at different levels to reduce indoor air pollutant exposures
Updated guidelines for exposure to indoor air pollutants
Gaps in indoor air research, programs and policies and recommendations for future research and policy development
Task 7. Report Review
A draft report will be submitted to CARB for review six months before the end date of the project. In consultation with CARB staff, the researchers should assemble a technical advisory group (TAG) to review the draft report. The candidates for the TAG should be experts from universities, research institutes, national laboratories, or government agencies that have extensive knowledge on indoor air. The TAG should provide written comments on the scientific basis for the draft report and will be paid for their review. Meanwhile, the draft report will also be posted online for public review.
Task 8. Final Report and Presentation.
The revised final report that addresses all comments from the TAG, CARB staff, other agency input, and the public will be prepared and submitted to CARB before the end date of the project. A technical seminar will be presented by the principal investigator to the CARB staff and the public. An electronic copy of all data generated by this study also will be provided to CARB.
During Active Contract Period
Work with CARB staff at the beginning of the project to create a half-page plain-language outreach deliverable for the public describing the project’s goals, process, and planned deliverables (available in multiple languages, template will be provided).
Quarterly Progress Reports and conference calls; the progress reports will include plain-language summaries that can be posted publicly. A progress report template will be provided.
Consultation calls with CARB and key stakeholders
Prior to Contract Close
Final data products created under this contract include all data, analyses and analytical tools generated through the course of this project
Draft final report that summarizes the findings of literature review and interviews
Include a plain language summary in draft final report
Include an equity implications section in draft final report
Work with CARB to create plain-language outreach deliverables for public that summarizes the key findings from this project (available in multiple languages)
Final report and virtual or in-person seminar
Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 24 months from the start date. Cost shall not exceed $500,000.
Responsiveness to the goals and objectives outlines in the proposal solicitation (15 points) Proposers should demonstrate a clear understanding of the policy objectives and research needs that CARB seeks to address with this project, and should convey their knowledge of the subject. The proposal should spell out, in adequate detail, exactly what the Proposer proposes to do to satisfy the requirements of the Solicitation. The draft proposal must propose work that would satisfy the objective(s) stated in the Research Solicitation: to conduct a comprehensive literature review, interview various stakeholders, synthesize the progresses on research findings, public perspectives, and policy development around indoor air since 2005, prioritize sources of indoor air pollutants, and provide recommendations on future research, program and policy development to improve indoor air quality in California. The researchers should describe how they will summarize and integrate information into a draft report.
Policy relevance/benefits to the state (10 points) – Does the proposal describe how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to help CARB accomplish its mission? Indoor air contributes a critical part of people’s exposures to air pollutants. A report released in 2005 provided a comprehensive review of information on indoor air pollution. Since then, new challenges on and tools for assessing indoor air also exist. Would the proposed project help CARB and other agencies in its efforts to reduce air pollution exposures and improve public health.
Previous work (15 points) – Do the researchers have relevant experience in this area? Is the team composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts? Do they discuss how they will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other state agencies (such as CEC and CDPH), and federal agencies such as the U.S. EPA? Does the team include one or several community or environmental justice partners, and if so, the relevant community or environmental justice partners should describe previous experience in community engagement and provide letters of support, references or a community impact statement, describing how previous work impacted communities. 5 points will be reserved for project teams that meet at least one of the following criteria:
The project team members come from various universities or include non-academic institutions or community-based organizations
The project team includes one or more members, contributing significantly to the project (i.e., a principle investigator, co-principle investigator or co-investigator, contributing 25% or more of their time to the project) who have not worked with CARB in the past 5 years.
Technical merit (25 points) - Describe the submission's technical strengths and/or weaknesses. Proposers should demonstrate the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the actual work. Please factor in how well the draft proposal describes these areas:
Is the proposed work scientifically defensible?
Does the proposed research demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of various indoor air pollutants, health impacts, and exposure disparity associated with different sensitive subpopulation and impacted communities?
How likely is it that the proposed work will provide useable findings and policy recommendations for CARB?
Does the proposed research demonstrate experiences working with impacted communities and adequately incorporate community partners in developing and reviewing the draft report?
Does the proposed work address all the deliverables required in section “DELIVERABLES”? If not, the proposal should not be considered for funding.
The review team will be selecting only one draft proposal for development into a full proposal. If this draft proposal has potential, what areas or topics should be prioritized or better explained in the full proposal?
Level and quality of effort to be provided (15 points) – Does the proposal allocate time and resources in such a way that the objectives of the study will be met? Is supervision and oversight adequate for ensuring that the project will remain on schedule? Is the distribution of workload appropriate for activities such as research, evaluation and analysis, data reduction, computer simulation, report preparation, meetings, and travel?
Cost effectiveness (20 points) - Does the cost seem appropriate for the proposed work? Does the proposed work seem feasible within the requested budget? Projects that provide co-funding should be evaluated more favorably.