Indoor acids and bases

William W. Nazaroff* (Invited author), Charles J. Weschler (Invited author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review


Numerous acids and bases influence indoor air quality. The most abundant of these species are CO2 (acidic) and NH3 (basic), both emitted by building occupants. Other prominent inorganic acids are HNO3 , HONO, SO2 , H2SO4 , HCl, and HOCl. Prominent organic acids include formic, acetic, and lactic; nicotine is a noteworthy organic base. Sources of N-, S-, and Cl-containing acids can include ventilation from outdoors, indoor combustion, consumer product use, and chemical reactions. Organic acids are commonly more abundant indoors than outdoors, with indoor sources including occupants, wood, and cooking. Beyond NH3 and nicotine, other noteworthy bases include inorganic and organic amines. Acids and bases partition indoors among the gas-phase, airborne particles, bulk water, and surfaces; relevant thermodynamic parameters governing the partitioning are the acid-dissociation constant (Ka ), Henry's law constant (KH), and the octanol-air partition coefficient (Koa ). Condensed-phase water strongly influences the fate of indoor acids and bases and is also a medium for chemical interactions. Indoor surfaces can be large reservoirs of acids and bases. This extensive review of the state of knowledge establishes a foundation for future inquiry to better understand how acids and bases influence the suitability of indoor environments for occupants, cultural artifacts, and sensitive equipment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)559-644
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Ammonia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Chemistry
  • Sources
  • Surfaces
  • Water

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Indoor acids and bases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this