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Observations on persistent organic pollutants in indoor and outdoor air using passive polyurethane foam samplers.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2008
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Journal number31
Volume42
Number of pages8
Pages7234-7241
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Air quality data of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) indoors and outdoors are sparse or lacking in several parts of the world, often hampered by the cost and inconvenience of active sampling techniques. Cheap and easy passive air sampling techniques are therefore helpful for reconnaissance surveys. As a part of the Megacity Initiative: Local and Global Research Observations (MILAGRO) project in Mexico City Metropolitan Area in 2006, a range of POPs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)) were analyzed in polyurethane foam (PUF) disks used as passive samplers in indoor and outdoor air. Results were compared to those from samplers deployed simultaneously in Gothenburg (Sweden) and Lancaster (United Kingdom). Using sampling rates suggested in the literature, the sums of 13 PAHs in the different sites were estimated to be 6.1–180 ng m−3, with phenanthrene as the predominant compound. Indoor PAH levels tended to be higher in Gothenburg and outdoor levels higher in Mexico City. The sum of PCBs ranged 59–2100 ng m−3, and seemed to be highest indoors in Gothenburg and Lancaster. PBDE levels (sum of seven) ranged 0.68–620 ng m−3, with the highest levels found in some indoor locations. OCPs (i.e. DDTs, HCHs, and chlordanes) were widely dispersed both outdoors and indoors at all three studied areas. In Gothenburg all POPs tended to be higher indoors than outdoors, while indoor and outdoor levels in Mexico City were similar. This could be due to the influence of indoor and outdoor sources, air exchange rates, and lifestyle factors. The study demonstrates how passive samplers can provide quick and cheap reconnaissance data simultaneously at many locations which can shed light on sources and other factors influencing POP levels in air, especially for the gaseous fractions.