Analytical solutions to compartmental indoor air quality models with application to environmental tobacco smoke concentrations measured in a house

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2003 Aug;53(8):918-36. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2003.10466248.


This paper derives the analytical solutions to multi-compartment indoor air quality models for predicting indoor air pollutant concentrations in the home and evaluates the solutions using experimental measurements in the rooms of a single-story residence. The model uses Laplace transform methods to solve the mass balance equations for two interconnected compartments, obtaining analytical solutions that can be applied without a computer. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) sources such as the cigarette typically emit pollutants for relatively short times (7-11 min) and are represented mathematically by a "rectangular" source emission time function, or approximated by a short-duration source called an "impulse" time function. Other time-varying indoor sources also can be represented by Laplace transforms. The two-compartment model is more complicated than the single-compartment model and has more parameters, including the cigarette or combustion source emission rate as a function of time, room volumes, compartmental air change rates, and interzonal air flow factors expressed as dimensionless ratios. This paper provides analytical solutions for the impulse, step (Heaviside), and rectangular source emission time functions. It evaluates the indoor model in an unoccupied two-bedroom home using cigars and cigarettes as sources with continuous measurements of carbon monoxide (CO), respirable suspended particles (RSP), and particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PPAH). Fine particle mass concentrations (RSP or PM3.5) are measured using real-time monitors. In our experiments, simultaneous measurements of concentrations at three heights in a bedroom confirm an important assumption of the model-spatial uniformity of mixing. The parameter values of the two-compartment model were obtained using a "grid search" optimization method, and the predicted solutions agreed well with the measured concentration time series in the rooms of the home. The door and window positions in each room had considerable effect on the pollutant concentrations observed in the home. Because of the small volumes and low air change rates of most homes, indoor pollutant concentrations from smoking activity in a home can be very high and can persist at measurable levels indoors for many hours.

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*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution