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Indoor air quality and health


Air quality is primarily monitored in outdoor locations, often for regulatory targets compliance purposes. However, people spend the majority of their lives in indoor environments: e.g. at home, in the workplace, in schools and inside transport vehicles. Whereas improving outdoor air quality leads to general improvements of indoor air quality as well, certain sources of air pollution not covered by ambient air quality standards can dominate in some indoor environments. In the current pandemic situation, the issue of good indoor air quality has become even more prominent, encompassing issues such as the need of good ventilation of indoor spaces.

In addition to identifying determinants for indoor air quality, it is important to assess their health impacts in the levels reached indoors to facilitate setting of purposeful indoor air quality standards. The mere presence of a determinant may not mean harmful health effects and some (biological) determinants may even have beneficial health effects.

Applicants should propose research actions that advance the understanding of the indoor air quality and related health and safety issues and should include all of the following activities:

  • Identification and characterisation of sources and routes of exposure and dispersion of chemical and biological indoor air pollution, e.g. indoor air microbiome and allergens, viral pathogens, household chemicals, biocides in building materials, particulate matter, radon as well as emerging pollutants;
  • Identification of differences and modes of interaction between indoor and outdoor air quality at relevant and representative locations;
  • Development and deployment of technologies enabling cost-effective monitoring of indoor air quality (e.g. air quality sensors) and user-friendly alert systems;
  • Development and deployment of effect-based test systems for the detection of synergistic effects of different biogenic particles and substances as well as additional chemical substances such as volatile organic compounds, including in vitro and in vivo approaches with respect to 3Rs[[Replacement, reduction and refinement]];
  • Identification of body burdens resulting from multipollutant (real-life scenario) indoor exposures and associated health effects, with specific focus on vulnerable population groups and sensitive life stages;
  • Conducting dose-response studies to facilitate the setting of purposeful quality standards;
  • Development of cost-effective, environment-friendly and scalable technologies to improve indoor air quality to reduce disease burdens;
  • Preparation of guidelines and training materials for interventions, supporting health promotion and disease prevention in various sectors, e.g. construction and transport, and in various socio-economic settings;
  • Delivery of FAIR[[FAIR data are data, which meet principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability.]] data and databases structured to allow user-friendly access to information about exposures, sources and risk factors.

Aspects such as gender, regional variations, socio-economics and culture should be considered, where appropriate.

Proposals should ensure that chemical monitoring data are shared in IPCHEM[[]] through involvement with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC).

All projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities, as appropriate. These networking and joint activities could, for example, involve the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. This could also involve networking and joint activities with projects funded under other clusters and pillars of Horizon Europe, or other EU programmes, as appropriate. Therefore, proposals are expected to include a budget for the attendance to regular joint meetings and may consider to cover the costs of any other potential joint activities without the prerequisite to detail concrete joint activities at this stage. The details of these joint activities will be defined during the grant agreement preparation phase. In this regard, the Commission may take on the role of facilitator for networking and exchanges, including with relevant stakeholders, if appropriate.