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Indoor Air. 2005 Apr;15(2):141-50.

Characterization of indoor sources of fine and ultrafine particles: a study conducted in a full-scale chamber.

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Danish Building and Urban Research, Energy and Indoor Climate Division, Hørsholm, Denmark.


Humans and their activities are known to generate considerable amounts of particulate matter indoors. Some of the activities are cooking, smoking and cleaning. In this study 13 different particle sources were for the first time examined in a 32 m3 full-scale chamber with an air change rate of 1.7 +/- 0.1/h. Two different instruments, a condensation particle counter (CPC) and an optical particle counter (OPC) were used to quantitatively determine ultrafine and fine particle emissions, respectively. The CPC measures particles from 0.02 microm to larger than 1.0 microm. The OPC was adjusted to measure particle concentrations in eight fractions between 0.3 and 1.0 microm. The sources were cigarette side-stream smoke, pure wax candles, scented candles, a vacuum cleaner, an air-freshener spray, a flat iron (with and without steam) on a cotton sheet, electric radiators, an electric stove, a gas stove, and frying meat. The cigarette burning, frying meat, air freshener spray and gas stove showed a particle size distribution that changed over time towards larger particles. In most of the experiments the maximum concentration was reached within a few minutes. Typically, the increase of the particle concentration immediately after activation of the source was more rapid than the decay of the concentration observed after deactivation of the source. The highest observed concentration of ultrafine particles was approximately 241,000 particles/cm3 and originated from the combustion of pure wax candles. The weakest generation of ultrafine particles (1.17 x 10(7) particles per second) was observed when ironing without steam on a cotton sheet, which resulted in a concentration of 550 particles/cm3 in the chamber air. The highest generation rate (1.47 x 10(10) particles per second) was observed in the radiator test.


Humans and their activities are known to generate substantial amounts of particulate matter indoors and potentially they can have a strong influence on short-term exposure. In this study a quantitative determination of the emissions of fine and ultrafine particles from different indoor sources was performed. The aim is a better understanding of the origin and fate of indoor particles. The results may be useful for Indoor Air Quality models.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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