Characteristics of carbonyls : concentrations and source strengths for indoor and outdoor residential microenvironments in China

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Journal Article

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Formaldehyde, Carbonyls, Indoor air quality, Source strength, Residential environment, China




Indoor and outdoor carbonyl concentrations were measured simultaneously in 12 urban dwellings in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xi’an, China in summer (from July to September in 2004) and winter (from December 2004 to February 2005). Formaldehyde was the most abundant indoor carbonyls species, while formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone were found to be the most abundant outdoor carbonyls species. The average formaldehyde concentrations in summer indoor air varied widely between cities, ranging from a low of 19.3 μg m−3 in Xi’an to a high of 92.8 μg m−3 in Beijing. The results showed that the dwellings with tobacco smoke, incense burning or poor ventilation had significantly higher indoor concentrations of certain carbonyls. It was noticed that although one half of the dwellings in this study installed with low emission building materials or furniture, the carbonyls levels were still significantly high. It was also noted that in winter both the indoor and outdoor acetone concentrations in two dwellings in Guangzhou were significantly high, which were mainly caused by the usage of acetone as industrial solvent in many paint manufacturing and other industries located around Guangzhou and relatively longer lifetime of acetone for removal by photolysis and OH reaction than other carbonyls species. The indoor carbonyls levels in Chinese dwellings were higher than that in dwellings in the other countries. The levels of indoor and ambient carbonyls showed great seasonal differences. Six carbonyls species were carried out the estimation of indoor source strengths. Formaldehyde had the largest indoor source strength, with an average of 5.25 mg h−1 in summer and 1.98 mg h−1 in winter, respectively. However, propionaldehyde, crotonaldehyde and benzaldehyde had the weakest indoor sources.

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Atmospheric Environment

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