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Air and Pollutant Transport From Attached Garages to Residential Living Spaces: Literature Review and Field Tests



Steven J. Emmerich, J Gorfain, C Howard-Reed


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is conducting a study on the indoor air quality (IAQ) impacts and engineering solutions related to the transport of pollutants from attached garages to residential living spaces. Natural or fan-induced pressure differences across air leakage paths in housegarage (HG) interfaces can result in the transport of the contaminants generated in garages into adjacent living spaces. This paper summarises a literature review on the transport of pollutants from garages to residential living spaces and describes a field study to estimate the range of airtightness of attached garages and of HG interfaces in the United States. Although the body of literature on pollutant transport from attached garages to residential buildings is limited, the studies reviewed provide substantial evidence that transport of contaminants from garages has the potential to negatively impact residential IAQ in either an acute (e.g., carbon monoxide from automobiles) or chronic manner (e.g., storage of chemical products). However, the literature contains few answers on issues such as the airtightness and geometry of the HG interface, the impact of heating and cooling equipment in the garage, and the effectiveness of potential engineering solutions. To address one gap in understanding these issues, the airtightness of garages and HG interfaces was measured in five residences using fan pressurisation. While the small sample of houses limits generalisation of the results, a range of house ages, styles, and sizes was included. For all homes tested, the garage was found to be at least twice as leaky as the house, based on air change per hour at 50 Pa. The leakiness of the garage envelope, based on surface area normalised effective leakage area at 4 Pa (ELA4/SA), ranges from a high of nearly eleven times to a low of two and a half times that of the house exterior envelope leakage. On average, the HG interface was almost two and a half times as leaky as
International Journal of Ventilation
Report Number
Publisher Info
, -1


garages, residential buildings, literature review, field tests, house-garage interface, attached garage, blower door, indoor air quality, living space, pollutant transport, airtightness


Emmerich, S. , Gorfain, J. and Howard-Reed, C. (2003), Air and Pollutant Transport From Attached Garages to Residential Living Spaces: Literature Review and Field Tests, International Journal of Ventilation, , -1, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created December 1, 2003, Updated August 7, 2014