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Environ Health Perspect. 2000 January; 108(1): 35–44.
PMCID: PMC1637850
Research Article

Characterization of indoor particle sources: A study conducted in the metropolitan Boston area.


An intensive particle monitoring study was conducted in homes in the Boston, Massachusetts, area during the winter and summer of 1996 in an effort to characterize sources of indoor particles. As part of this study, continuous particle size and mass concentration data were collected in four single-family homes, with each home monitored for one or two 6-day periods. Additionally, housing activity and air exchange rate data were collected. Cooking, cleaning, and the movement of people were identified as the most important indoor particle sources in these homes. These sources contributed significantly both to indoor concentrations (indoor-outdoor ratios varied between 2 and 33) and to altered indoor particle size distributions. Cooking, including broiling/baking, toasting, and barbecuing contributed primarily to particulate matter with physical diameters between 0.02 and 0.5 microm [PM((0.02-0.5))], with volume median diameters of between 0.13 and 0.25 microm. Sources of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameters between 0.7 and 10 microm [PM((0.7-10))] included sautéing, cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping), and movement of people, with volume median diameters of between 3 and 4.3 microm. Frying was associated with particles from both PM((0.02-0.5)) and PM((0.7-10)). Air exchange rates ranged between 0.12 and 24.3 exchanges/hr and had significant impact on indoor particle levels and size distributions. Low air exchange rates (< 1 exchange/hr) resulted in longer air residence times and more time for particle concentrations from indoor sources to increase. When air exchange rates were higher (> 1 exchange/hr), the impact of indoor sources was less pronounced, as indoor particle concentrations tracked outdoor levels more closely.

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