Ventilation Control of Volatile Organic Compounds in New U.S. Homes: Results of a Controlled Field Study in Nine Residential Units

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In order to optimize strategies to remove airborne contaminants in residences, it is necessary to determine how contaminant concentrations respond to changes in the air exchange rate. The impact of air exchange rate on the indoor concentrations of 39 target volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was assessed by measuring air exchange rates and VOC concentrations at three ventilation settings in nine residences. Active sampling methods were used for VOC concentration measurements, and passive perfluorocarbon tracer gas emitters with active sampling were used to determine the overall air exchange rate corresponding to the VOC measurements at each ventilation setting. The concentration levels and emission rates of the target VOCs varied by as much as two orders of magnitude across sites. Aldehyde and terpene compounds were typically the chemical classes with highest concentrations, followed by alkanes, aromatics, and siloxanes. For each home, VOC concentrations tended to decrease as the air exchange rate was increased, however, measurement uncertainty was significant. The indoor concentration was inversely proportional to air exchange rate for most compounds. For a subset of compounds including formaldehyde, however, the indoor concentration exhibited a non-linear dependence on the timescale for air exchange.

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