Quantifying object and material surface areas in residences

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The dynamic behavior of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor environments depends, in part, on sorptive interactions between VOCs in the gas phase and material surfaces. Since information on the types and quantities of interior material surfaces is not generally available, this pilot-scale study was conducted in occupied residences to develop and demonstrate a method for quantifying surface areas of objects and materials in rooms. Access to 33 rooms in nine residences consisting of bathrooms, bedroom/offices and common areas was solicited from among research group members living in the East San Francisco Bay Area. A systematic approach was implemented for measuring rooms and objects from 300 cm2 and larger. The ventilated air volumes of the rooms were estimated and surface area-to-volume ratios were calculated for objects and materials, each segregated into 20 or more categories. Total surface area-to-volume ratios also were determined for each room. The bathrooms had the highest total surface area-to-volume ratios. Bedrooms generally had higher ratios than common areas consisting of kitchens, living/dining rooms and transitional rooms. Total surface area-to-volume ratios for the 12 bedrooms ranged between 2.3 and 4.7 m2 m-3. The importance of individual objects and materials with respect to sorption will depend upon the sorption coefficients for the various VOC/materials combinations. When combined, the highly permeable material categories, which may contribute to significant interactions, had a median ratio of about 0.5 m2 m-3 for all three types of rooms.

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