VOCs in industrial, urban and suburban neighborhoods-Part 2: Factors affecting indoor and outdoor concentrations


Many microenvironmental and behavioral factors can affect concentrations of and exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Identifying these determinants is important to understand exposures and risks, and also to design policies and strategies that minimize concentrations. This study is aimed at determining factors associated with VOC concentrations found indoors in residences and outdoors in ambient air. It utilizes results from a comprehensive field study in which 98 VOCs were measured both inside and outside of 159 residences in three communities in southeast Michigan, USA. Additional measurements included indoor CO2 concentrations, temperature, relative humidity, building and neighborhood characteristics, and occupant activities, assessed using a questionnaire and comprehensive walkthrough investigation. Factors potentially affecting concentrations were identified using bivariate and multivariate analyses. Outdoors, seasonal and community effects were observed. Indoors, seasonal effects were limited to the urban and industrial communities, largely due to changes in ambient levels. Elevated indoor VOC concentrations were associated with eight sources or activities: the presence of an attached garage; recent renovations; older residences; indoor smoking; less frequent window or door opening; higher CO2 concentrations; and lower ventilation rates. VOC levels were uninfluenced by building materials (wood vs. brick), flooring type (carpeting vs. wood), stove type (gas or electric), number of occupants, air freshener use, and hobbies involving arts and crafts. Factor analyses identified up to five factors for the ambient VOC measurements, and up to 10 factors for the indoor measurements, which further helped to explain the variability of concentrations and associations between VOCs. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Atmospheric Environment