Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Nov 7;11(11):11481-504. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111111481.
Air pollution health studies often use outdoor concentrations as exposure surrogates. Failure to account for variability of residential infiltration of outdoor pollutants can induce exposure errors and lead to bias and incorrect confidence intervals in health effect estimates. The residential air exchange rate (AER), which is the rate of exchange of indoor air with outdoor air, is an important determinant for house-to-house (spatial) and temporal variations of air pollution infiltration. Our goal was to evaluate and apply mechanistic models to predict AERs for 213 homes in the Near-Road Exposures and Effects of Urban Air Pollutants Study (NEXUS), a cohort study of traffic-related air pollution exposures and respiratory effects in asthmatic children living near major roads in Detroit, Michigan. We used a previously developed model (LBL), which predicts AER from meteorology and questionnaire data on building characteristics related to air leakage, and an extended version of this model (LBLX) that includes natural ventilation from open windows. As a critical and novel aspect of our AER modeling approach, we performed a cross validation, which included both parameter estimation (i.e., model calibration) and model evaluation, based on daily AER measurements from a subset of 24 study homes on five consecutive days during two seasons. The measured AER varied between 0.09 and 3.48 h(-1) with a median of 0.64 h(-1). For the individual model-predicted and measured AER, the median absolute difference was 29% (0.19 h‑1) for both the LBL and LBLX models. The LBL and LBLX models predicted 59% and 61% of the variance in the AER, respectively. Daily AER predictions for all 213 homes during the three year study (2010-2012) showed considerable house-to-house variations from building leakage differences, and temporal variations from outdoor temperature and wind speed fluctuations. Using this novel approach, NEXUS will be one of the first epidemiology studies to apply calibrated and home-specific AER models, and to include the spatial and temporal variations of AER for over 200 individual homes across multiple years into an exposure assessment in support of improving risk estimates.