EPA charged the committee to develop a report summarizing the current state of scientific understanding of the effects of climate change on indoor air and public health. It provided three examples of key questions to address:

  • What are the likely impacts of climate change in the United States on human exposure to chemical and biological contaminants inside buildings, and what are the likely public health consequences?
  • What are the likely impacts of climate change on moisture and dampness conditions in buildings, and what are the likely public health consequences?
  • What are priority issues for action?

EPA indicated that it intended the report to serve as the foundation for the development of US government funding priorities and for use in communications to and guidance for the public.


To answer the questions posed by EPA, the committee undertook a wide-ranging evaluation of relevant research on climate change, buildings, indoor environmental quality, and occupant health. Although the committee did not review all such literature—an undertaking beyond the scope of this report—it did attempt to cover the work that it believed to have been influential in shaping scientific understanding by at the time it completed its task in early 2011.

The committee consulted several sources of information. On health outcomes, the primary source was epidemiologic studies. Most of those studies examined general population exposures to problematic agents in homes, reflecting the focus of researchers working in the field. The committee also examined the smaller literature addressing commercial buildings, apartments, schools, and other buildings. Clinical and toxicologic research were considered as appropriate.

The literature of engineering, architecture, and the physical sciences informed the committee’s discussions of building characteristics, exposure assessment and characterization, pollutant transport, and related topics; and public-health and behavioral-sciences research was consulted for the discussion of public-health implications. Those disciplines have different practices regarding the publication of research results. For example, relatively few papers in the peer-reviewed literature address building construction or maintenance issues. The committee endeavored in all cases to

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