Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the indoor and outdoor air of three cities in the U.S

Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Jun 15;36(12):2552-9. doi: 10.1021/es015727h.


The indoor and outdoor concentrations of 30 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in 55 nonsmoking residences in three urban areas during June 1999-May 2000. The data represent the subset of samples collected within the Relationship of Indoor, Outdoor, and Personal Air study (RIOPA). The study collected samples from homes in Los Angeles, CA, Houston, TX, and Elizabeth, NJ. In the outdoor samples, the total PAH concentrations (sigmaPAH) were 4.2-64 ng m(-3) in Los Angeles, 10-160 ng m(-3) in Houston, and 12-110 ng m(-3) in Elizabeth. In the indoor samples, the concentrations of sigmaPAH were 16-220 ng m(-3) in Los Angeles, 21-310 ng m(-3) in Houston, and 22-350 ng m(-3) in Elizabeth. The PAH profiles of low molecular weight PAHs (3-4 rings) in the outdoor samples from the three cities were not significantly different. In contrast, the profiles of 5-7-ring PAHs in thesethree citieswere significantlydifferent, which suggested different dominant PAH sources. The signatures of 5-7-ring PAHs in the indoor samples in each city were similar to the outdoor profiles, which suggested that indoor concentrations of 5-7-ring PAHs were dominated by outdoor sources. Indoor-to-outdoor ratios of the PAH concentrations showed that indoor sources had a significant effect on indoor concentrations of 3-ring PAHs and a smaller effect on 4-ring PAHs and that outdoor sources dominated the indoor concentrations of 5-7-ring PAHs.

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

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Cities
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Reference Values
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons