Total OH Reactivity of Emissions from Humans: In Situ Measurement and Budget Analysis

Nijing Wang, Nora Zannoni, Lisa Ernle, Gabriel Bekö, Pawel Wargocki, Mengze Li, Charles J. Weschler, Jonathan Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    79 Downloads (Pure)


    Humans are a potent, mobile source of various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor environments. Such direct anthropogenic emissions are gaining importance, as those from furnishings and building materials have become better regulated and energy efficient homes may reduce ventilation. While previous studies have characterized human emissions in indoor environments, the question remains whether VOCs remain unidentified by current measuring techniques. In this study conducted in a climate chamber occupied by four people, the total OH reactivity of air was quantified, together with multiple VOCs measured by proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-ToF-MS) and fast gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (fast-GC-MS). Whole-body, breath, and dermal emissions were assessed. The comparison of directly measured OH reactivity and that of the summed reactivity of individually measured species revealed no significant shortfall. Ozone exposure (37 ppb) was found to have little influence on breath OH reactivity but enhanced dermal OH reactivity significantly. Without ozone, the whole-body OH reactivity was dominated by breath emissions, mostly isoprene (76%). With ozone present, OH reactivity nearly doubled, with the increase being mainly caused by dermal emissions of mostly carbonyl compounds (57%). No significant difference in total OH reactivity was observed for different age groups (teenagers/young adults/seniors) without ozone. With ozone present, the total OH reactivity decreased slightly with increasing age.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)149–159
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    Dive into the research topics of 'Total OH Reactivity of Emissions from Humans: In Situ Measurement and Budget Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this