Dynamic behavior of semivolatile organic compounds in indoor air. 2. Nicotine and phenanthrene with carpet and wallboard

Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Feb 1;35(3):560-7. doi: 10.1021/es001372a.


The surface interactions of nicotine and phenanthrene with carpet, painted wallboard, and stainless steel were investigated in a room-sized environmental test chamber. Adsorption kinetics were tested by flash evaporating a known mass of each compound into a sealed 20 m3 chamber containing one or more of the tested sorbents. In each experiment, one or more emissions were performed after the gas-phase concentration had reached an apparent plateau. At the end of each experiment, the chamber was ventilated and resealed to monitor reemission of the compound from the sorbents. Kinetic sorption parameters were determined by fitting a mass-balance model to the experimental results. The sorption capacity of stainless steel was of similar magnitude for nicotine and phenanthrene. Sorption of nicotine on carpet and wallboard was much stronger, with equilibrium partitioning values 2-3 orders of magnitude higher. The sorption capacities of phenanthrene on carpet and wallboard were smaller, approximately 10-20% of the stainless steel values. The rates of uptake are of similar magnitude for all sorbate--sorbent pairs and are consistent with the limit imposed by gas-phase boundary-layer mass transport. The rates of desorption are much faster for phenanthrene than for nicotine. Model simulations predict average nicotine levels in a typical smoking residence that are consistent with published data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Ganglionic Stimulants / analysis
  • Ganglionic Stimulants / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Manufactured Materials*
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nicotine / chemistry*
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Phenanthrenes / analysis
  • Phenanthrenes / chemistry*
  • Smoking
  • Volatilization


  • Ganglionic Stimulants
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Phenanthrenes
  • phenanthrene
  • Nicotine