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Environmental Science & Technology

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Wildfires -- Health aspects, Indoor air pollution, Persistent pollutants -- Bioaccumulation


Wildfire smoke contains PAHs that, after infiltrating indoors, accumulate on indoor materials through particle deposition and partitioning from air. We report the magnitude and persistence of select surface associated PAHs on three common indoor materials: glass, cotton, and mechanical air filter media. Materials were loaded with PAHs through both spiking with standards and exposure to a wildfire smoke proxy. Loaded materials were aged indoors over ~4 months to determine PAH persistence. For materials spiked with standards, total PAH decay rates were 0.010±0.002, 0.025±0.005, and 0.051±0.009 d -1 , for mechanical air filter media, glass, and cotton, respectively. PAH decay on smoke-exposed samples is consistent with that predicated from decay constants from spiked materials. Decay curves of smoke loaded samples show PAH surface concentrations are elevated above background for ~40 days after the smoke clears. Cleaning processes efficiently remove PAHs, with reductions of 71% and 62% after cleaning smoke-exposed glass with ethanol and a commercial cleaner, respectively. Laundering smoke- exposed cotton in a washing machine and heated drying removed 48% of PAHs. An exposure assessment indicates that both inhalation and dermal PAH exposure pathways may be relevant following wildfire smoke events. Synopsis: Wildfire smoke events load indoor materials with PAHs that persist at elevated concentrations for weeks after the air clears, creating previously unrecognized inhalation and dermal exposure pathways. Cleaning activities meaningfully reduce PAH levels on smoke exposed indoor materials. Keywords: Indoor air quality, persistent organic pollutants, partitioning, biomass burning, surface chemistry


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Environmental Science & Technology



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Available for download on Tuesday, December 17, 2024