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Effect of Ventilation Systems and Air Filters on Decay Rates of Particles Produced By Indoor Sources in An Occupied Townhouse

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Abstract: Several studies have shown the importance of particle losses in real homes due to deposition and filtration; however, none have quantitatively shown the impact of using a central forced air fan and in-duct filter on particle loss rates. In an attempt to provide such data, we measured the deposition of particles ranging from 0.3 um to 10 um in an occupied townhouse and also in an unoccupied test house. Experiments were run with three different sources (cooking with a gas stove, citronella candle, pouring kitty litter), with the central heating and air conditioning (HAC) fan on or off, and with two different types of in-duct filters (electrostatic precipitator and ordinary furnace filter). Particle size, HAC fan operation, and the electrostatic precipitator had significant effects on particle loss rates. The standard furnace filter had no effect. Surprisingly, the type of source (combustion vs. mechanical generation) and the type of furnishings (fully furnished including carpet vs. largely unfurnished including mostly bare floor) also had no measurable effect on the deposition rates of particles of comparable size. With the HAC fan off, deposition rates varied from 0.3 h-1 for the smallest particle range (0.3 um to 0.5 um) to 5.2 h-1 for particles greater than 10 um. Operation of the central HAC fan approximately doubled these rates for particles < 5 um, and increased rates by 2 h-1 for the larger particles. An in-duct electrostatic precipitator increased the loss rates compared to the fan-off condition by factors of 5 to 10 for particles < 2.5 um, and by a factor of 3 for 2.5 um to 5.0 um particles. In practical terms, use of the central fan alone could reduce indoor particle concentrations by 25 % to 50 %, and use of an in-duct ESP could reduce particle concentrations by 55 % to 85 % compared to fan-off conditions.

This study was partially funded by an EPA Internal Grant to the corresponding author. It has been reviewed and cleared for publicaiton. Certain commercial equipment, instruments, or materials are identified in this paper in order to specify the experimental procedure adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor is it intended to imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose.
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Citation:Howardreed, C., L. A. Wallace, and S. J. Emmerich. Effect of Ventilation Systems and Air Filters on Decay Rates of Particles Produced By Indoor Sources in An Occupied Townhouse. ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT 37(38):5295-5306, (2003).
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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: 12/01/2003
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Bullet Item Effect of Ventilation Systems and Air Filters on Decay Rates of Particles Produced By Indoor Sources in An Occupied Townhouse
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