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Indoor Air. 2005 Feb;15(1):2-12.

Relationship between outdoor and indoor air quality in eight French schools.

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LEPTAB, University of La Rochelle, La Rochelle cédex, France.


In the frame of the French national research program PRIMEQUAL (inter-ministry program for better air quality in urban environments), measurements of outdoor and indoor pollution have been carried out in eight schools in La Rochelle (France) and its suburbs. The buildings were naturally ventilated by opening the windows, or mechanically ventilated, and showed various air permeabilities. Ozone, nitrogen oxides (NO and NO(2)), and airborne particle (particle counts within 15 size intervals ranging from 0.3 to 15 mum) concentrations were continuously monitored indoors and outdoors for two 2-week periods. The indoor humidity, temperature, CO(2) concentration (an indicator of occupancy), window openings and building permeability were also measured. The temporal profiles of indoor and outdoor concentrations show ozone and nitrogen oxides behave differently: NO and NO(2) indoor/outdoor concentration ratios (I/O) were found to vary in a range from 0.5 to 1, and from 0.88 to 1, respectively, but no correlation with building permeability was observed. On the contrary, I/O ratios of ozone vary in a range from 0 to 0.45 and seem to be strongly influenced by the building air-tightness: the more airtight the building envelope, the lower the ratio. Occupancy, through re-suspension of previously deposited particles and possible particle generation, strongly influences the indoor concentration level of airborne particles. However, this influence decreases with particle size, reflecting the way deposition velocities vary as a function of size. The influence of particle size on deposition and penetration across the building envelope is also discussed by analyzing the I/O ratios measured when the buildings were unoccupied, by comparing the indoor concentrations measured when the buildings were occupied and when they were not (O/U ratios), and by referring to previously published studies focussing on this topic. Except one case, I/O were found to vary in the range from 0.03 to 1.79. All O/U are greater than one and increase up to 100 with particle size.


Assessing children's total exposure requires the knowledge of outdoor and indoor air contaminant concentrations. The study presented here provides data on compared outdoor and indoor concentration levels in school buildings, as well as information on the parameters influencing the relationship between outdoor and indoor air quality. It may be used as a basis for estimating indoor concentrations from outdoor concentrations data, or as a first step in designing buildings sheltering children against atmospheric pollution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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