Experiments probing the influence of air exchange rates on secondary organic aerosols derived from indoor chemistry

Charles J. Weschler, H.C. Shields

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Reactions between ozone and terpenes have been shown to increase the concentrations of submicron particles in indoor settings. The present study was designed to examine the influence of air exchange rates on the concentrations of these secondary organic aerosols as well as on the evolution of their particle size distributions. The experiments were performed in a manipulated office setting containing a constant source of d-limonene and an ozone generator that was remotely turned "on" or "off" at 6h intervals. The particle number concentrations were monitored using an optical particle counter with eight-channels ranging from 0.1-0.2 to$GRT@2.0$mu@m diameter. The air exchange rates during the experiments were either high (working hours) or low (non-working hours) and ranged from 1.6 to$GRT@12h $+-1$/, with intermediate exchange rates. Given the emission rates of ozone and d-limonene used in these studies, at an air exchange rate of 1.6h $+-1$/ particle number concentration in the 0.1-0.2$mu@m size-range peaked 1.2h after the ozone generator was switched on. In the ensuing 4.8h particle counts increased in successive size-ranges up to the 0.5-0.7$mu@m diameter range. At higher air exchange rates, the resulting concentrations of total particles and particle mass (calculated from particle counts) were smaller, and at exchange rates exceeding 12h$+-1$/, no excess particle formation was detectable with the instrument used in this study. Particle size evolved through accretion and, in some cases, coagulation. There was evidence for coagulation among particles in the smallest size-range at low air exchange rates (high particle concentrations) but no evidence of coagulation was apparent at higher air exchange rates (lower particle concentrations). At higher air exchange rates the particle count or size distributions were shifted towards smaller particle diameters and less time was required to achieve the maximum concentration in each of the size-ranges where discernable particle growth occurred. These results illustrate still another way in which ventilation affects human exposures in indoor settings. However, the ultimate effects of these exposures on health and well being remain to be determined. $CPY 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number39
Pages (from-to)5621-5631
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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