Improving the indoor air quality of residential buildings during bushfire smoke events

Priyadarsini Rajagopalan, Nigel Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Exposure to bushfire smoke is associated with acute and chronic health effects such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Residential buildings are important places of refuge from bushfire smoke, however the air quality within these locations can become heavily polluted by smoke infiltration. Consequently, some residential buildings may offer limited protection from exposure to poor air quality, especially during extended smoke events. This paper evaluates the impact of bushfire smoke on indoor air quality within residential buildings and proposes strategies and guidance to reduce indoor levels of particulates and other pollutants. The paper explores the different monitoring techniques used to measure air pollutants and assesses the influence of the building envelope, filtration technologies, and portable air cleaners used to improve indoor air quality. The evaluation found that bushfire smoke can substantially increase the levels of pollutants within residential buildings. Notably, some studies reported indoor levels of PM2.5 of approximately 500µg/m3 during bushfire smoke events. Many Australian homes are very leaky (i.e., >15 ACH) compared to those in countries such as the USA. Strategies such as improving the building envelope will help reduce smoke infiltration, however even in airtight homes pollutant levels will eventually increase over time. Therefore, the appropriate design, selection, and operation of household ventilation systems that include particle filtration will be critical to reduce indoor exposures during prolonged smoke events. Future studies of bushfire smoke intrusion in residences could also focus on filtration technologies that can remove gaseous pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalClimate
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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