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Airborne particles in indoor environment of homes, schools, offices and aged care facilities

The main routes of exposure
: Morawska, L.; Ayoko, G.A.; Bae, G.N.; Buonanno, G.; Chao, C.Y.H.; Clifford, S.; Fu, S.C.; Hänninen, O.; He, C.; Isaxon, C.; Mazaheri, M.; Salthammer, T.; Waring, M.; Wierzbicka, A.

Fulltext (PDF; )

Environment international 108 (2017), pp.75-83
ISSN: 0160-4120
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer WKI ()
indoor particulate matter; indoor aerosol; indoor ultrafine particle; home indoor particle; school indoor particle; office indoor particle; child care indoor particle; aged care indoor particle

It has been shown that the exposure to airborne particulate matter is one of the most significant environmental risks people face. Since indoor environment is where people spend the majority of time, in order to protect against this risk, the origin of the particles needs to be understood: do they come from indoor, outdoor sources or both? Further, this question needs to be answered separately for each of thePM mass/number size fractions, as they originate from different sources. Numerous studies have been conducted for specific indoor environments or under specific setting. Here our aim was to go beyond the specifics of individual studies, and to explore, based on pooled data from the literature, whether there are generalizable trends in routes of exposure at homes, schools and day cares, offices and aged care facilities. To do this, we quantified the overall 24 h and occupancy weighted means of PM₁₀, PM₂.₅ and PN - particle number concentration. Based on this, we developed a summary of the indoor versus outdoor origin of indoor particles and compared the means to the WHO guidelines (for PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅) and to the typical levels reported for urban environments (PN). We showed that the main origins of particle metrics differ from one type of indoor environment to another. For homes, outdoor air is the main origin of PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅ but PN originate from indoor sources; for schools and day cares, outdoor air is the source of PN while PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅ have indoor sources; and for offices, outdoor air is the source of all three particle size fractions. While each individual building is different, leading to differences in exposure and ideally necessitating its own assessment (whichis very rarely done), our findings point to the existence of generalizable trends for the main types of indoor environments where people spend time, and therefore to the type of prevention measures which need to be considered in general for these environments.