Funds from this grant support efforts by Rachel Adams at the University of California, Berkeley and Michael Waring, assistant professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering at Drexel University, who propose to examine the microbial community response to water damage in residential buildings. Adams and Waring have three objectives: to apply molecular ecological approaches to better understand any changes in microbial biomass and composition that accompany water intrusion into residences; to inform microbial sampling strategies in residential buildings; and to determine community- level patterns for how building conditions/characteristics and microbial community composition are associated.
Adams, Waring, and their team will conduct well-replicated surveys of 60 residential units in order to achieve these objectives, studying buildings in Red Hook, Brooklyn that experienced water damage during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, as well as similar, though undamaged buildings, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Over a period of three to four weeks, they plan to make continuous measurements of indoor and outdoor temperature, relative and absolute humidity, light intensity, HVAC system activity, and integrated PM2.5 and PM10 measurements. They will then characterize the microbial community composition in both time-integrated and discrete-time-period samples. Data collected will permit the team to analyze the variation in microbial community composition associated with building characteristics and operation, geographic location, and the extent of water damage. Findings will be shared through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at scientific conferences, articles in trade journals, and blog posts. The team also plans to write one article for a lay audience.