Sources of volatile organic compounds in suburban homes in Shanghai, China, and the impact of air filtration on compound concentrations.

Journal Article

Air pollution in China is an ongoing concern, with subsets of the population (e.g., asthmatic children) especially susceptible to the associated health effects. In addition, people spend the majority of their time indoors, where pollutant composition may differ from the better characterized ambient environment. Although volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present health risks and have high concentrations indoors, their sources have not been thoroughly quantified in typical homes in suburban China. Similarly lacking is an understanding of how well a purifier with high efficiency particulate air and activated carbon filters can remove VOCs in a real-world setting in China. In this study, we a) quantified total VOCs (TVOC) and 900 + individual VOCs in 20 homes in China, b) identified potential sources of VOCs, and c) evaluated impacts of filtration. We used non-negative matrix factorization, a variable reduction technique, to identify sources. TVOC and individual compounds had higher concentrations indoors than outdoors (mean [range] indoors, filtration with pre-filter only: 302 [56-793] μg m-3 ; outdoors, entire study: 92 [26-629] μg m-3 ), indicating prevalent sources indoors. Many compounds detected have not, to our knowledge, been measured in homes in China. Some compounds (e.g., octanal, heptanal, ⍺-cedrene) were specific to the indoor environment, a few were ubiquitous (e.g., acetaldehyde, formaldehyde), and others were detected infrequently. These compounds may originate from consumer products, solvents, vehicle emissions, a hexane source, wooden products, and cooking. Filtration may improve air quality indoors by lowering concentrations of some VOCs, and, specifically, contributions related to solvents and consumer products.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Norris, C; Fang, L; Barkjohn, KK; Carlson, D; Zhang, Y; Mo, J; Li, Z; Zhang, J; Cui, X; Schauer, JJ; Davis, A; Black, M; Bergin, MH

Published Date

  • September 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 231 /

Start / End Page

  • 256 - 268

PubMed ID

  • 31129407

Pubmed Central ID

  • 31129407

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1298

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0045-6535

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.05.059


  • eng