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Quantifying the contribution of ambient and indoor-generated fine particles to indoor air in residential environments



Indoor fine particles (FPs) are a combination of ambient particles that have infiltrated indoors, and particles that have been generated indoors from activities such as cooking. The objective of this paper was to estimate the infiltration factor (Finf) and the ambient/non-ambient components of indoor FPs. To do this, continuous measurements were collected indoors and outdoors for seven consecutive days in 50 non-smoking homes in Halifax, Nova Scotia in both summer and winter using DustTrak (TSI Inc) photometers. Additionally, indoor and outdoor gravimetric measurements were made for each 24-h period in each home, using Harvard impactors (HI). A computerized algorithm was developed to remove (censor) peaks due to indoor sources. The censored indoor/outdoor ratio was then used to estimate daily Finfs and to determine the ambient and non-ambient components of total indoor concentrations. Finf estimates in Halifax (daily summer median = 0.80; daily winter median = 0.55) were higher than have been reported in other parts of Canada. In both winter and summer, the majority of FP was of ambient origin (daily winter median = 59%; daily summer median = 84%). Predictors of the non-ambient component included various cooking variables, combustion sources, relative humidity, and factors influencing ventilation. This work highlights the fact that regional factors can influence the contribution of ambient particles to indoor residential concentrations.

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