Published In

Environmental Science & Technology

Document Type


Publication Date



VOC Emission -- Testing


Using real-time measurements of CO and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air handler of an occupied middle school, we quantified source strengths for 249 VOCs and apportioned the source to the building, occupants and their activities, outdoor air, or recirculation air. For VOCs quantified in this study, there is a source to the outdoors of 8.6 ± 1.8 g/h in building exhaust air, of which 5.9 ± 1.7 g/h can be attributed to indoor sources (the building and occupants and their activities). The corresponding whole-building area emission factor from indoor sources is 1020 ± 300 μg/(m h), including reactive VOCs like isoprene and monoterpenes (33 ± 5.1 and 29 ± 5.7 μg/(m h), respectively). Per-person emission factors are calculated for compounds associated with occupants and their activities, e.g., monoterpenes are emitted at a rate of 280 ± 80 μg/(person h). The air handler included carbon scrubbing, reducing supply air concentrations of 125 compounds by 38 ± 19% (mean ± std. dev.) with a net removal of 2.4 ± 0.4 g/h of organic compounds from the building. This carbon scrubber reduces steady-state indoor concentrations of organics by 65 μg/m and the contribution of indoor sources of VOCs to the outdoor environment by ∼40%. These data inform the design and operation of buildings to reduce human exposure to VOCs inside buildings. These data indicate the potential for gas-phase air cleaning to improve both indoor air quality and reduce VOC emissions from buildings to the outdoor environment.


© 2022 American Chemical Society


This is the author’s version of a work. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Environmental Science & Technology.



Persistent Identifier

Table S3.xlsx (103 kB)
Supporting Information