Human Ammonia Emission Rates under Various Indoor Environmental Conditions

Mengze Li, Charles J. Weschler*, Gabriel Beko, Pawel Wargocki, Gregor Lucic, Jonathan Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Ammonia (NH3) is typically present at higher concentrations in indoor air (similar to 10-70 ppb) than in outdoor air (similar to 50 ppt to 5 ppb). It is the dominant neutralizer of acidic species in indoor environments, strongly influencing the partitioning of gaseous acidic and basic species to aerosols, surface films, and bulk water. We have measured NH3 emissions from humans in an environmentally controlled chamber. A series of experiments, each with four volunteers, quantified NH3 emissions as a function of temperature (25.1-32.6 °C), clothing (long- sleeved shirts/pants or T-shirts/shorts), age (teenagers, adults, and seniors), relative humidity (low or high), and ozone (<2 ppb or ∼35 ppb). Higher temperature and more skin exposure (T-shirts/shorts) significantly increased emission rates. For adults and seniors (long clothing), NH3 emissions are estimated to be 0.4 mg h−1 person−1 at 25 °C, 0.8 mg h−1 person−1 at 27 °C, and 1.4 mg h−1 person−1 at 29 °C, based on the temperature relationship observed in this study. Human NH3 emissions are sufficient to neutralize the acidifying impacts of human CO2 emissions. Results from this study can be used to more accurately model indoor and inner-city outdoor NH3 concentrations and associated chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)5419-5428
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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