High-Efficiency Air Cleaning Reduces Indoor Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Alters Indoor Air Chemistry in a Near-Roadway School.

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Environmental Science & Technology

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Schools in proximity to roadways expose students to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). We investigate impacts of air-cleaning on indoor TRAP levels and indoor chemistry in a renovated school adjacent an interstate highway. We monitor air pollutants pre- and post-renovation and quantify efficiency of particle (MERV8 and 16 filters) and gas (functionalized activated carbon) air-cleaning. Time-resolved measurements show air-cleaning systems are effective, with in situ particle removal efficiency >94% across 10 nm to 10 μm. Activated carbon removed BTEX and NO with variability in removal efficiency. Over eight months of monitoring, NO removal efficiency was 96% initially and decreased to 61%; and BTEX removal efficiency was >80% or increased to >80%. Air-cleaning reduced indoor TRAP to below or near urban background. Air-cleaning systems suppressed indoor chemistry by reducing indoor levels of oxidants (NO, O) and reactive organics of indoor origin. When the air cleaning system was inactive, our data show that indoor SOA formation within the school was elevated. Loss rates of NO and O through the air-cleaning system were ∼1.5-2.4 h and ∼2.3 h, respectively. Air-cleaning was 83% and 69% efficient, respectively, in removing monoterpenes and isoprene. By suppressing precursors, scaling calculations show air-cleaning prevented ∼3.4 mg/h of indoor SOA formation due to indoor ozone-monoterpene chemistry. For comparison, we estimate that filtration removed ∼130 mg/h of PM.


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