Indoor pollutants emitted by office equipment: A review of reported data and information needs

Publication Type

Journal Article



There is concern that potentially harmful pollutants may be emitted from office equipment. Although office equipment has been a focal point for governmental efforts to promote energy efficiency through programs such as the US EPA's Energy Star, little is known about the relationship between office equipment use and indoor air quality, and information on pollutant emissions is sparse. In this review, we summarize available information on emission rates and/or ambient concentrations of various pollutants that are related to office equipment use. Experimental methods used in the characterization of emissions are briefly described. The office equipment evaluated in this review includes computers (desktops and notebooks), printers (laser, ink-jet and all-in-one machines) and photocopy machines. Reported emission rates of the following pollutant groups are summarized: volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), ozone, particulate matter and several semivolatile organic chemicals (SVOCs). The latter include phthalate esters, brominated flame retardants, organophosphate flame retardants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We also review studies reporting airborne concentrations in indoor environments where office equipment was present and thought to be a significant contributor to the total pollutant burden (offices, residences, schools, electronics recycling plants). For certain pollutants, such as organophosphate flame retardants, the link between emission by office equipment and indoor air concentrations is relatively well established. However, indoor VOCs, ozone, PAHs and phthalate esters can originate from a variety of sources, and their source apportionment is less straightforward. This literature review identifies substances of toxicological significance, with the purpose of serving as a guide to evaluate their potential importance with respect to human exposures.


Atmospheric Environment



Year of Publication



Research Areas