Relationship between indoor and outdoor levels of fine particle mass, particle number concentrations and black smoke under different ventilation conditions

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2004 Jul;14(4):275-83. doi: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500317.


Fine particle mass (PM(2.5)), black smoke (BS) and particle number concentration (NC) were measured simultaneously indoors and outdoors at an urban location in Erfurt, Germany. Measurements were conducted during 2-month periods in summer and winter. Different ventilation modes were applied during each measurement period: windows closed; windows opened widely for 15 min twice per day; windows and door across the room opened widely for 5 min twice per day and windows tilted open all day long. The lowest indoor/outdoor (I/O) ratios for all pollutants were found for closed windows, whereas the ratios for ventilated environments were higher. For closed windows, the I/O ratios for PM(2.5) are larger than the corresponding values for BS and NC (0.63 vs. 0.44 or 0.33, respectively) probably due to lower penetration factors for particles sizes <500 nm and higher deposition rates for ultrafine particles (<100 nm). The largest differences for the I/O ratios between closed and tilted windows were found for NC (0.33 vs. 0.78). The indoor and outdoor levels of PM(2.5) and BS were strongly correlated for all ventilation modes. The linear regression models showed that more than 75% of the daily indoor variation could be explained by the daily outdoor variation for those pollutants. However, the correlation between indoor and outdoor NC for ventilation twice a day was weak. It indicates that rapid changes of the air exchange rates during the day may affect the correlation and regression analysis of NC indoor and outdoor concentrations. This effect was not observed for PM(2.5) or BS. This study shows the importance of the indoor air aerosol measurements for health effects studies and the need for more research on I/O transport mechanisms for NC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Seasons
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Ventilation*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Smoke