ROCIS News & Events
December 2017
Beyond Burnt Bacon
Particle Spikes & Outdoor Particles
When folks use low cost particle monitors the biggest impressions are often the incidents or spikes that cause the highest readings... like burning, or just cooking, the bacon. Of course, it's important to recognize and reduce the frequency of these spikes. 

However, we see a tenfold difference in the median particle counts between LCMP (Low Cost Monitoring Project) sites, and in most homes, the spikes do not appear to contribute significantly to that difference.  
How can we help folks make sense of the data? In one week alone, the three Dylos particle monitors generate 60,000 data points for each site! The ROCIS team has developed several tools to support LCMP participants. How do outdoor particle counts influence indoor counts? Does it help to use a kitchen exhaust fan or to use a portable air purifier?

And about that bacon??

Can Your Furnace Improve Your Home's AQ?
There's good news & bad news...
First, the good news…

Running the furnace fan continuously with a high quality filter can definitely reduce a home’s particle counts.

But, the bad news…

When outdoor particle counts are high, or indoor sources elevated, operating the fan in “Auto” mode with a high performance filter did not appear to have an impact on reducing household particles (Dylos 0.5+ um).

More bad news we learned from testing 40 systems:

  1. There is no easy (do-it-yourself) way for a homeowner to determine the advisability of running a furnace fan continuously to filter the air.
  2. In nearly all of the systems tested there were one or more reasons why the fan should not be operated continuously with a high performance filter. Some of these could be fixed (cost ~ $1,000); in other cases the best option would be to address the barriers at the point of system replacement.
  3. The increased energy use from operating the fan continuously varied widely. While it is possible to get the cost down to $9.00/month, in the majority of cases the cost was $60-70/month, with some homes more than twice that much.
Out of the sites tested, we have modified eight systems to run continuously with a high performance, fat filter.

If you have a few minutes, catch Linda Wigington's interview at the National Home Performance Conference.
"I participated in the ROCIS LCMP as a new Pittsburgh resident and air quality professional looking to both understand my personal pollution exposure and learn more about the local community and low-cost monitoring techniques. The indoor air quality was worse than I expected, so the ROCIS team performed an 'intervention.' When outdoor counts are the highest, indoor particle levels are 20-50 times lower. Their data visualization tools and group discussions made it easy to track changes in indoor and outdoor air and see the results of the intervention. The team worked with an energy expert to update our central furnace filtration system both to filter out finer particles and to upgrade the fan to run continuously at a low power draw so as not to waste electricity. Through the program, I learned a lot about local air issues and the connections between ambient and indoor exposure."
Shaena Berlin Ulissi, MS / Senior Consultant, Air Sciences

Comparison of two weeks of “Averager” data from Shaena’s home below:
Air Handler Graph
Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge 2018
Enroll Now to Participate!
Sustainable Pittsburgh has just opened up their 2018 enrollment period to participate in the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. More than 50 organizations in the Pittsburgh region have already enrolled to participate in next year’s challenge. Register by Dec. 31 to receive a competitive edge of earning 30 points! 

The Sustainable Pittsburgh challenge is a free and friendly competition designed for businesses, nonprofits, universities, schools, and local governments to track existing sustainable initiatives, create and change existing programming to incorporate sustainability, and to receive recognition for their achievements. 

ROCIS Partners with Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge
We are thrilled to announce the continuation of our partnership with Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge. Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge participants witl be able to earn points through monitoring in our Low Cost Monitoring Project. Participants will receive points for using each type of monitoring equipment provided, diligently logging their experiences, attendance at each meeting, and presenting their data at the cohort Wrap-up meeting. SPC participants will be given the opportunity to monitor their home and/or workplace.

We are still enrolling folks for the 26th cohort of the Low-Cost Monitoring Project starting in January so remember to fill out the above survey to start earning points!
Dr. Deborah Gentile Featured in The Heinz Endowment "Community of We" magazine
Dr. Deborah Gentile, Pediatric Specialist in Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology at the Pediatric Alliance, was recently featured in The Heinz Endowment’s latest issue of their magazine. Dr. Gentile tells her team’s story on how they began studying the prevalence of asthma in the city of Pittsburgh. Her team found approximately 25 percent of children have physician-diagnosed asthma, which is higher than the national and county prevalence for the age group. The highest incidences of asthma are among children in vulnerable communities.

“Pittsburgh is a very resilient city. People tend to work together to solve problems. Together we can raise awareness. Together,we can improve environmental conditions.”
- Dr. Deb Gentile

CCI's Case for Healthier Homes
CCI just released a report focusing on health-related factors common in the households in the greater Pittsburgh region. This report investigates lead paint, radon, and mold. CCI’s report also highlights their efforts and findings generated from the Grassroots Green Homes community outreach program.

Clean Air Council Launches Clean Air Initiative

Clean Air Council is launching a community focused initiative called Southwest Pennsylvania Neighbors for Clean Air that mobilizes and informs citizens about air quality issues through one action per month.

Interested in participating in the Low-Cost Monitoring Project?

We are currently recruiting participants for our 26th Cohort which begins Thursday, January 11th, 2018 and ends on February 2nd, 2018.

Note that participation in the LCM Project is time intensive. Attendance to the Kick-off and Wrap-up meeting is required.

Rob Busher, ROCIS Air Quality Fellow & Kacy McGill, ROCIS Low Cost Monitoring Program Coordinator
Coming Events
2018 NY Regional Home Performance Conference & Trade Show
February 13-14, 2018 (All Day)
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hosted by Home Performance Coalition / Cost Varies

2018 Maine Indoor Air Quality & Energy Conference
May 1-2, 2018 (All Day)
Online from Portland, ME
Hosted by Maine Indoor Air Quality Council / Cost Varies
November ROCIS Presentations
Slides and materials are available for some past presentations.

Healthy Building Summit: Research Into Practice
November 2-3, 2017, Seven Springs, PA
"ROCIS's Low Cost Monitoring & Interventions: Insights & Implications"
Thanks to The Heinz Endowments for support of the ROCIS initiative. 
(Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces)