Symposium on Planning, Nowcasting, and Forecasting in the Urban Zone


Modeling shelter-in-place including sorption on indoor surfaces

Wanyu R. Chan, University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA; and P. N. Price, A. J. Gadgil, W. W. Nazaroff, G. Loosmore, and G. Sugiyama

Intentional or accidental large-scale airborne toxic releases (e.g. terrorist attacks or industrial accidents) can cause severe harm to nearby communities. As part of an emergency response plan, shelter-in-place (SIP) can be an effective response option, especially when evacuation is infeasible. Reasonably tight building envelopes provide some protection against exposure to peak concentrations when toxic release passes over an area. They also provide some protection in terms of cumulative exposure, if SIP is terminated promptly after the outdoor plume has passed.

The purpose of this work is to quantify the level of protection offered by existing houses, and the importance of sorption/desorption to and from surfaces on the effectiveness of SIP. We examined a hypothetical chlorine gas release scenario simulated by the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC). We used a standard infiltration model to calculate the distribution of time dependent infiltration rates within each census tract. Large variation in the air tightness of dwellings makes some houses more protective than others. Considering only the median air tightness, model results showed that if sheltered indoors, the total population intake of non-sorbing toxic gas is only 50% of the outdoor level 4 hours from the start of the release. Based on a sorption/desorption model by Karlsson and Huber (1996), we calculated that the sorption process would further lower the total intake of the population by an additional 50%. The potential benefit of SIP can be considerably higher if the comparison is made in terms of health effects because of the non-linear acute effect dose-response curve of many chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial substances.

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Session 6, Emergency Response (Room 611)
Tuesday, 13 January 2004, 3:30 PM-5:30 PM, Room 611

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