Indoor/outdoor relationships for PM2.5 and associated carbonaceous pollutants at residential homes in Hong Kong - case study

J J Cao, S C Lee, J C Chow, Y Cheng, K F Ho, K Fung, S X Liu, J G Watson
Indoor Air 2005, 15 (3): 197-204

UNLABELLED: Six residences were selected (two roadside, two urban, and two rural) to evaluate the indoor-outdoor characteristics of PM(2.5) (aerodynamic diameter <2.5 microm) carbonaceous species in Hong Kong during March and April 2004. Twenty-minute-averaged indoor and outdoor PM(2.5) concentrations were recorded by DustTrak samplers simultaneously at each site for 3 days to examine diurnal variability of PM(2.5) mass concentrations and their indoor-to-outdoor (I/O) ratios. Daily (24-h average) indoor/outdoor PM(2.5) samples were collected on pre-fired quartz-fiber filters with battery-powered portable mini-volume samplers and analyzed for organic and elemental carbon (OC, EC) by thermal/optical reflectance (TOR) following the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) protocol. The average indoor and outdoor concentrations of 24 h PM(2.5) were 56.7 and 43.8 microg/m(3), respectively. The short-term PM(2.5) profiles indicated that the penetration of outdoor particles was an important contributor to indoor PM(2.5), and a household survey indicated that daily activities were also sources of episodic peaks in indoor PM(2.5). The average indoor OC and EC concentrations of 17.1 and 2.8 microg/m(3), respectively, accounted for an average of 29.5 and 5.2%, respectively, of indoor PM(2.5) mass. The average indoor OC/EC ratios were 5.8, 9.1, and 5.0 in roadside, urban, and rural areas, respectively; while average outdoor OC/EC ratios were 4.0, 4.3, and 4.0, respectively. The average I/O ratios of 24 h PM(2.5), OC, and EC were 1.4, 1.8, and 1.2, respectively. High indoor-outdoor correlations (r(2)) were found for PM(2.5) EC (0.96) and mass (0.81), and low correlations were found for OC (0.55), indicative of different organic carbon sources indoors. A simple model implied that about two-thirds of carbonaceous particles in indoor air are originated from outdoor sources.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Indoor particulate pollution has received more attentions in Asia. This study presents a case study regarding the fine particulate matter and its carbonaceous compositions at six residential homes in Hong Kong. The characteristics and relationship of atmospheric organic and elemental carbon were discussed indoors and outdoors. The distribution of eight carbon fractions was first reported in indoor samples to interpret potential sources of indoor carbonaceous particles. The data set can provide significant scientific basis for indoor air quality and epidemiology study in Hong Kong and China.

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