Volatile organic compound concentrations, emission rates, and source apportionment in newly-built apartments at pre-occupancy stage

Seung H Shin, Wan K Jo
Chemosphere 2012, 89 (5): 569-78
The present study investigated the indoor concentrations of selected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde and their indoor emission characteristics in newly-built apartments at the pre-occupancy stage. In total, 107 apartments were surveyed for indoor and outdoor VOC concentrations in two metropolitan cities and one rural area in Korea. A mass balanced model was used to estimate surface area-specific emission rates of individual VOCs and formaldehyde. Seven (benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, m,p-xylene, o-xylene, n-hexane, and n-heptane) of 40 target compounds were detectable in all indoor air samples, whereas the first five were detected in all outdoor air samples. Formaldehyde was also predominant in the indoor air samples, with a high detection frequency of 96%. The indoor concentrations were significantly higher than the outdoor concentrations for aromatics, alcohols, terpenes, and ketones. However, six halogenated VOCs exhibited similar concentrations for indoor and outdoor air samples, suggesting that they are not major components emitted from building materials. It was also suggested that a certain portion of the apartments surveyed were constructed by not following the Korean Ministry of Environment guidelines for formaldehyde emissions. Toluene exhibited the highest emission rate with a median value of 138 μg m(-2) h(-1). The target compounds with median emission rates greater than 20 μg m(-2) h(-1) were toluene, 1-propanol, formaldehyde, and 2-butanone. The wood panels/vinyl floor coverings were the largest indoor pollutant source, followed by floorings, wall coverings, adhesives, and paints. The wood panels/vinyl floor coverings contributed nearly three times more to indoor VOC concentrations than paints.

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