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Human exposure to NO₂ in school and office indoor environments

: Salonen, Heidi; Salthammer, Tunga; Morawska, Lidia

Fulltext ()

Environment international 130 (2019), Art. 104887, 12 pp.
ISSN: 0160-4120
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer WKI ()
air pollution; nitrogen dioxide; source; indoor / outdoor ratio; school environment; office environments

Background: Although nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is one of the most common air pollutants encountered indoors, and extensive literature has examined the link between NO₂ exposure and duration causing adverse respiratory effects in susceptible populations, information about global and local exposure to NO₂ in different indoor environments is limited. To synthesize the existing knowledge, this review analyzes the magnitude of and the trends in global and local exposure to NO₂ in schools and offices, and the factors that control exposure.
Methods: For the literature review, Web of Science, SCOPUS, Google Scholar, and PubMed were searched using 42 search terms and their combinations to identify manuscripts, reports, and directives published between 1971 and 2019. The search was then extended to the reference lists of relevant articles.
Results: The calculated median, as well as the mean, concentration of NO₂ in school (median 21.1 μg/m³; mean 29.4 μg/m³) and office rates, airtightness of the envelope, furnishing and surface characteristics of the building, location of the building (urban versus suburban and proximity to traffic routes), as well as occupants' behavior (such as opening windows), have been statistically significantly associated with indoor NO₂ levels in school and office environments.
Conclusions: Indoor exposure to NO₂ from the infiltration of ambient air can be significant in urban areas, and in the case of high traffic volume. Although reducing transportation emissions is challenging, there are several easier means to reduce indoor NO₂ concentrations, including a ventilation strategy with suitable filters; location planning of new schools, classrooms, and ventilating windows or intakes; traffic planning (location and density); and reducing the use of NO₂-releasing indoor sources.