Architectural Environment Modification for Alleviation of Allergic Sensitization to Air Pollutants in the Urban Indoor Environment

  • Elke Simone F. Tiotuico


An increase in prevalence of allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis is observed in the urbanized regions of Asia due to changes in ambient air quality and environment. Urban environmental pollutant exposure in low to middle-income countries such as the Philippines are significantly affected by air pollution due to urban emissions, furthering exacerbation of allergic symptoms. 69% of the Philippines’ ambient air pollution in 2016 is attributed to traffic emissions according to the DENR, 90% of which is concentrated in the country’s urban capital Metro Manila. Existing studies on clinically advised environment modification for the alleviation of allergic symptoms majorly revolve around the suppression of air pollutants using mechanical air filtering and home behavioral and sanitation interventions — showing a lack of research on whether similar results can be achieved through spatial intervention in a naturally ventilated indoor environment which is characteristic of economically accessible tropical climate dwellings.

This study aims to design spatial elements that provide a novel means for allergic symptom alleviation that can naturally suppress environmental allergy triggers that take the form of common urban air pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, TVOCs, carbon emissions) from entering the indoor environment; namely an air filtering building façade and a cross-ventilated space plan. Field measurements for air quality in an existing standard-sized urban structure were determined using an air quality detector, whose results were input in a 3D computerized model modified with the proposed design elements. The study model was tested for natural airflow and pollutant filtration performance using CFD simulations. Improved passive airflow and pollutant suppression was observed in the simulation of the proposed design elements seeing a consistent 95.64% decrease of all pollutants within the indoor space and qualitative improvement in air velocity magnitude due to broader air distribution.