Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are ubiquitous in indoor environments. Inhalation of VOCs can cause irritation, difficulty breathing, and nausea, and damage the central nervous system as well as other organs. Formaldehyde is a particularly important VOC as it is even a carcinogen. Removal of VOCs is thus critical to control indoor air quality (IAQ). Photocatalytic oxidation has demonstrated feasibility to remove toxic VOCs and formaldehyde from indoor environments. The technique is highly-chemical stable, inexpensive, non-toxic, and capable of removing a wide variety of organics under light irradiation. In this paper, we review and summarize the traditional air cleaning methods and current photocatalytic oxidation approaches in both of VOCs and formaldehyde degradation in indoor environments. Influencing factors such as temperature, relative humidity, deactivation and reactivations of the photocatalyst are discussed. Aspects of the application of the photocatalytic technique to improve the IAQ are suggested.
Keywords: VOCs; formaldehyde; influencing factors; photocatalysis; review.