Airborne particulate matter is a diverse pollutant class whose excessive presence in indoor air contributes to an array of adverse health and material-damage effects. Particles are classified according to their diameter into three size modes: ultrafine (0.1 microm), accumulation (0.1-2 microm), and coarse (= 2 microm). These modes have largely distinct sources and composition, and they exhibit different dynamic behaviors. The concept of mass conservation or material balance provides a foundation for quantitatively and mechanistically linking important outcome variables, such as concentrations and exposures, to the influencing input parameters. The factors governing indoor particle concentrations include direct emissions from indoor sources, ventilation supply from outdoor air, filtration, deposition onto indoor surfaces, and removal from indoor air by means of ventilation. In some circumstances, transport and transformation processes within indoor environments may also play an important role in influencing particle concentrations and consequences. Such processes include mixing, interzonal transport, resuspension, coagulation, and phase change.
Practical implications: The paper gives a practical overview of issues related to particulate matter indoors, as well as valuable information for understanding filtration and how particles contribute to adverse health effects.