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Continuous Monitoring of Ultrafine, Fine, and Coarse Particles in a Residence for 18 Months in 1999-2000

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Abstract: Continuous monitors were employed for 18 months in an occupied townhouse to measure ultrafine, fine, and coarse particles; air change rates; wind speed and direction; temperature; and relative humidity (RH). A main objective was to document short-term and long-term variation in indoor air concentrations of size-resolved particles (0.01-20 um) caused by (1) diurnal and seasonal variation of outdoor air concentrations and meteorological variables, (2) indoor sources such as cooking and using candles, and (3) activities affecting air change rates such as opening windows and using fans, A second objective was to test and compare available instruments for their suitability in providing real-time estimates of particle levels and ancillary variables.

Despite different measuring principles, the instruments employed in this study agreed reasonably well for particles less than 10 um in diameter. The three instruments measuring fine and coarse particles (aerodynamic diameter between 0.3 and 20 um) agreed to within 30% in their overall estimates of total volume. Two of these instruments employed optical scattering, and the third used an aerodynamic acceleration principle. However, several lines of evidence indicated that the instrument employing aerodynamic acceleration overestimated concentrations for particle diameters greater than 10 um. A fourth instrument measuring ultrafine and accumulation-mode particles (0.01-1 um) was operated with two different inlets providing somewhat different particle size ranges. The two Inlets agreed in the ultrafine region (<0.1 um) but diverged increasingly for larger particles (up to 0.445 um).

Indoor sources affecting ultrafine particle concentrations were observed 22% of the time, and sources affecting fine and coarse particle concentrations were observed 12 and 15% of the time, respectively. When an indoor source was operating, particle concentrations for different sizes ranged from 2 to 20 times the average concentrations when no indoor source was apparent. Indoor sources, such as cooking with natural gas, and simple physical activities, such as walking, accounted for a majority (50-90%) of the ultrafine and coarse particle concentrations, whereas outdoor sources were more important for accumulation-mode particles between 0.1 and 1 um in diameter. Averaged for the entire year and including no periods when indoor sources were apparent, the number distribution was bimodal, with a peak at ~10 nm (possibly smaller), a shallow minimum at ~14 nm, and a second broad peak at ~68 nm. The volume distribution was also bimodal, with a broad peak at ~200 nm, a minimum at ~1.2 um, and then an upward slope again through the remaining size fractions.

A database was created on a 5-min averaging time basis. It contains more than 90,000 measurements by two of the instruments and approximately 30,000 by the two optical scattering instruments. About 4500 hour-long average air change rates were also calculated throughout the year using a dedicated gas chromatograph with electron capture detection (GC/ECD). At high air change rates [>0.8 air changes per hour (hr')], particle concentrations were either elevated (when no source was present) or depressed (when an indoor source was operating) by factors of up to 2 compared with low air change rates.

This study was partially funded by an EPA Internal Grant to the first author. It has been reviewed and cleared for publication. Mention oof trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Citation:Wallace, L. A., C. Howardreed, and S. J. Emmerich. Continuous Monitoring of Ultrafine, Fine, and Coarse Particles in a Residence for 18 Months in 1999-2000. JOURNAL OF THE AIR & WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION 52(7):828-844, (2002).
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Exposure Measurements & Analysis Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 07/01/2002
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Use of Innovative Monitoring Techniques to Estimate Source Strengths and Decay Rates for Important Sources of Fine Particles: Application to Indoor Air and Personal Exposure Models
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