A large fraction of the global population relies on the inefficient combustion of solid fuels for cooking and home heating, resulting in household exposure to combustion byproducts. In the southwestern United States, unhealthy air quality has been observed in some homes that use solid fuels as a primary source of heat on the Navajo Nation. In order to better understand how home heating fuel choice can influence indoor air quality in this region, we used recently developed low-cost electrochemical sensors to measure carbon monoxide (CO) air mole fractions continuously inside and outside 41 homes in two communities on the Navajo Nation. Using low-cost sensors in this study, which don't require extensive training to operate, enabled collaboration with local Diné College students and faculty in the planning and implementation of home deployments. Households used natural gas, propane, pellets, wood, and/or coal for heating. We developed quantification methods that included uncertainty estimation for Alphasense CO-B4 sensors, for measurements both inside and outside homes. CO concentrations elevated above background were observed in homes in each heating fuel group, but the highest hourly concentrations were observed in wood and coal burning homes, some of which exceeded World Health Organization Guidelines on both an hourly and eight-hourly basis. In order to probe the many factors that can influence indoor pollutant concentrations, we developed and implemented methods that employ CO emission and decay time periods observed in homes during everyday activities to estimate air exchange rates as well as CO emission rates on the basis of a given well-mixed volume of air. The air quality measurement tools and methods demonstrated in this study can be readily extended to indoor air quality studies in other communities around the world to inform how home heating and cooking practices are influencing indoor air quality during normal daily activities.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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