Using time- and size-resolved particulate data to quantify indoor penetration and deposition behavior

Environ Sci Technol. 2001 May 15;35(10):2089-99. doi: 10.1021/es001477d.


Because people spend approximately 85-90% of their time indoors, it is widely recognized that a significant portion of total personal exposures to ambient particles occurs in indoor environments. Although penetration efficiencies and deposition rates regulate indoor exposures to ambient particles, few data exist on the levels or variability of these infiltration parameters, in particular for time- and size-resolved data. To investigate ambient particle infiltration, a comprehensive particle characterization study was conducted in nine nonsmoking homes in the metropolitan Boston area. Continuous indoor and outdoor PM2.5 and size distribution measurements were made in each of the study homes over weeklong periods. Data for nighttime, nonsource periods were used to quantify infiltration factors for PM2.5 as well as for 17 discrete particle size intervals between 0.02 and 10 microns. Infiltration factors for PM2.5 exhibited large intra- and interhome variability, which was attributed to seasonal effects and home dynamics. As expected, minimum infiltration factors were observed for ultrafine and coarse particles. A physical-statistical model was used to estimate size-specific penetration efficiencies and deposition rates for these study homes. Our data show that the penetration efficiency depends on particle size as well as home characteristics. These results provide new insight on the protective role of the building shell in reducing indoor exposures to ambient particles, especially for tighter (e.g., winterized) homes and for particles with diameters greater than 1 micron.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Movements
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Facility Design and Construction*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Particle Size
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors