The Sloan Foundation today announced funding for a pilot study looking at the effects of weatherization on the indoor airborne microbiome. This work will be performed by Largus Angenent at Cornell University. The full summary of the project is below:
The U.S. Department of Energy has instituted a weatherization program aimed at making homes more energy efficient. Through this program, 20 to 30 million U.S. families are eligible for weatherization services nationwide. One of the main components of weatherization is to reduce airflow by reducing draft, resulting in reduced levels of ventilation. Bioaerosols can accumulate in indoor air after weatherization, particularly in homes that have an internal source, such as mold. This study aims to characterize the airborne microbiome before and after weatherization in one climate zone: the Northeast. Air sampling units will be installed in living rooms, where occupants are exposed to day-time aerosols. Baseline sampling will be collected prior to weatherization and after weatherization with homes being sealed. A total of 10 single-family homes will be sampled for 3 days in a row before and after weatherization. Another 5 homes will be controls for which no weatherization takes place. Bioaerosols will be analyzed for bacterial and fungal community analysis (16S, 18S) using next-generation sequencing methods. Time-series sampling procedures will be used to obtain enough statistical data to link airborne microbiome composition to environmental metadata, including air filtration rates, that we will collect from these houses.