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Occurrence, dynamics and reactions of organic pollutants in the indoor environment

: Salthammer, T.; Bahadir, M.


Clean - soil, air, water 37 (2009), No.6, pp.417-435
ISSN: 1863-0650
ISSN: 1863-0669
Journal Article
Fraunhofer WKI ()
indoor environment; volatile organic compound; semivolatile organic compound; particle; gas/particle distribution; indoor chemistry

The indoor environment is a multidisciplinary scientific field involving chemistry, physics, biology, health sciences, architecture, building sciences and civil engineering. The need for reliable assessment of human exposure to indoor pollutants is attracting increasing attention. This, however, requires a detailed understanding of the relevant compounds, their sources, physical and chemical properties, dynamics, reactions, their distribution among the gas phase, airborne particles and settled dust as well as the availability of modern measurement techniques. Building products, furnishings and other indoor materials often emit volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. With respect to a healthy indoor environment, only low emitting products, which do not influence indoor air quality in a negative way, should be used in a building. Therefore, materials and products for indoor use need to be evaluated for their chemical emissions. This is routinely done in test cambers and cells. Many studies have shown that the types of sources in occupational and residential indoor environments, the spectrum of emitting compounds and the duration of emission cover a wide range. The demand for standardized test methods under laboratory conditions has resulted in several guidelines for determination of emission rates. Furthermore, it has now been recognized that both primary and secondary emissions may affect indoor air quality. The problem may become more dominant when components of different materials can react with each other or when catalytic materials are applied. Such products derived from indoor related reactions may have a negative impact on indoor air quality due to their low odor threshold, health related properties or the formation of ultrafine particles. Several factors can influence the emission characteristics and numerous investigations have shown that indoor chemistry is of particular importance for the indoor related characterization of building product emissions. This paper provides an overview of the current state of the art research on the mentioned topics.