Sources and migration of volatile organic compounds in mixed-use buildings


We examined concentrations and migration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ten mixed-use buildings in southeast Michigan, USA. In an office and work zone in each building, air exchange rates (AERs) were measured using perfluorocarbon tracers, and over 96 VOC species were measured by GC/MS over a 7-day period. VOCs were then apportioned to sources in offices, work zones, and outdoors using a two-zone mass balance model. AERs averaged 3.9 h (0.2-14.2 h) in offices and 1.9 h (0.4-3.5 h) in work zones. The dominant VOCs included aromatics, terpenes and alkanes. VOC concentrations were uniform in the smaller spaces, and more variable in some of the very large spaces. Apportionments depended on the VOC and building, but emissions in industrial zones of buildings often migrated to office areas where they frequently accounted for the bulk of VOC concentrations. Outdoor sources accounted for most benzene and carbon tetrachloride, and a small fraction of aromatic and aliphatic compounds. This study shows that pollutant migration can be a significant and not uncommon problem in mixed-use buildings, and it demonstrates the need for better control of emissions and pollutant migration.

Publication Title

Indoor Air