Nitrogen dioxide exposures among a selected group of residents of substandard housing in Houston, Texas

Joanne Walker Shields, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Nitrogen dioxide (NO$\sb2)$ levels in sixteen substandard houses located in Houston, Texas were examined. The classification of the houses as substandard was based on an assessment of structural integrity which would affect air exchange rates. In these homes, unvented gas space heaters were operated as the primary source of heat. The Ogawa passive sampling device was used to measure NO$\sb2$ concentrations over 24 to 48-hour periods during generally cold weather. A sampler was placed in the kitchen and bedroom of each house. The female head of household was asked to wear a monitor during area monitoring to assess her personal exposure. Outdoor levels of NO$\sb2$ were also measured. Mean (standard deviation) levels of kitchen, bedroom and personal exposures were 280 (125) ppb, 256 (155) ppb and 164 (102) ppb, respectively. Additional short-term ($<$24 hours) samples were measured in three houses. The mean level of NO$\sb2$ measured outdoors was 51 ppb over the course of the study. The measurements obtained with the Ogawa sampler were compared to those levels obtained using a reference method (chemiluminescence). Outdoor levels measured with the diffusion samplers were 48% higher. These results suggest that wintertime NO$\sb2$ levels within substandard houses using gas appliances for heating and cooking are extremely elevated. Further work is needed to investigate the prevalence of possible health effects associated with these exposures.

Subject Area

Environmental science|Public health

Recommended Citation

Shields, Joanne Walker, "Nitrogen dioxide exposures among a selected group of residents of substandard housing in Houston, Texas" (1992). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9302799.