Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde exposure mitigation in US residences: In-home measurements of ventilation control and source control

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Measurements were taken in new US residences to assess the extent to which ventilation and source control can mitigate formaldehyde exposure. Increasingventilation consistently lowered indoor formaldehyde concentrations. However, at a reference air exchange rate of 0.35 h-1, increasing ventilation was up to 60% less effective than would be predicted if the emission rate were constant. This is consistent with formaldehyde emission rates decreasing as air concentrations increase, as observed in chamber studies. In contrast, measurements suggest acetaldehyde emission was independent of ventilation rate. To evaluate the effectiveness of source control, formaldehyde concentrations were measured in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified/Indoor airPLUS homes constructed with materials certified to have low emission rates of volatile organic compounds (VOC). At a reference air exchange rate of 0.35 h-1, and adjusting for home age, temperature and relative humidity, formaldehyde concentrations in homes built with low-VOC materials were 42% lower on average than in reference new homes with conventional building materials. Without adjustment, concentrations were 27% lower in the low-VOC homes. The mean and standard deviation of formaldehyde concentration were 33 µg m-3 and 22 µg m-3 for low-VOC homes and 45 µg m-3 and 30 µ g m-3 for conventional.

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