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J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 1998 Jan-Mar;8(1):65-78.

Measurement of air exchange rate of stationary vehicles and estimation of in-vehicle exposure.

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Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The air exchange rates or air changes per hour (ACH) were measured under 4 conditions in 3 stationary automobiles. The ACH ranged between 1.0 and 3.0 h-1 with windows closed and no mechanical ventilation, between 1.8 and 3.7 h-1 for windows closed with fan set on recirculation, between 13.3 and 26.1 h-1 for window open with no mechanical ventilation, and between 36.2 and 47.5 h-1 for window closed with the fan set on fresh air. ACHs for windows closed with no ventilation were higher for the older automobile than for the newer automobiles. With the windows closed and fan turned off, ACH was not influenced by wind speed (p > 0.05). When the window was open, ACH appeared to be greatly affected by wind speed (R2 = 0.86). These measurements are relevant to understanding exposures inside automobiles to sources such as dry-cleaned clothes, cigarettes and airbags. Therefore, to understand the in-vehicle exposure to these internal sources, perchloroethylene (PCE) emitted from dry-cleaned clothes and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) inside a vehicle were modeled for simulated driving cycles. Airbag deployment was also modeled for estimating exposure level to alkaline particulate and carbon monoxide (CO). Average exposure to PCE inside a vehicle for 30 minutes period was high (approximately 780 micrograms/m3); however, this is only 6% of the two-week exposure that is influenced by the storage of dry cleaned clothing at home. On the other hand, the exposure levels of respirable suspended particulate (RSP) and formaldehyde due to ETS could reach 2.1 mg/m3 and 0.11 ppm, respectively, when a person smokes inside a driving car even with the window open. In modeling the in-vehicle concentrations following airbag deployment, the average CO level over 20 minutes would not appear to present problem (less than 28 ppm). The peak concentration of respirable particulate would have exceeded 140 mg/m3. Since most of the particle mass is composed of alkaline material, these high levels might be expected to cause harmful effects on susceptible people, such as asthmatics. In all modeled cases, ACH would significantly affect build-up and dilution of pollutants originating from internal sources. Frequent stopping in congested urban traffic can greatly increase short-term exposures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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