Standard Article

Carcinogens, Monitoring of Indoor Air

Industrial Hygiene

  1. Max R. Peterson

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a1305

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Peterson, M. R. 2006. Carcinogens, Monitoring of Indoor Air. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Research Triangle Institute, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Carcinogens in indoor air include radioactive radon, a variety of organic compounds, several inorganic species, asbestos fibers, and a large number of chemical species associated with suspended particulate matter (SPM). Within these categories, carcinogens may be grouped byeither chemical class and physical properties or by the methods used to measure them. Generally, measurement methods within a category are at least similar if not identical.

A typical measurement method includes procedures for sampling a known volume of air in a way that quantitatively collects the species of interest, transferring collected samples to a laboratory, and measuring species of interest in the samples using an appropriate validated analysis method. The sampling location may be in the breathing zone of a person (to measure personal exposure) or at a specific location in a building or room (to measure potential for exposure at that location). A sample may be collected very quickly (to obtain a snapshot of carcinogen concentration at a specific time) or very slowly over a period of hours, days, or weeks (to obtain an integrated or average carcinogen concentration).

The analysis method is essentially independent of the sampling location and sampling time, but collection of an adequate quantity of the species of interest is crucial. In general, radon is measured as radiation emitted from the sample; organic compounds are measured using gas or liquid chromatography with an appropriate detector; carcinogenic inorganic species are measured using atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) or atomic emission spectroscopy (AES); asbestos fibers are visually counted at high magnification; and particles are extracted with a solvent to quantitatively remove the species of interest, which are then measured using one of the organic or inorganic methods described above. Concentrations of the species of interest can then be calculated by dividing the quantity of each species measured in the collected sample by the volume of air sampled.