Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Project Status: complete

Report Published December 1992:

Title: PTEAM: Monitoring of phthalates and PAHs in indoor and outdoor air samples in Riverside, California. Volume 2.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Sheldon, L

Contractor: Research Triangle Institute

Contract Number: A933-144

Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Field Studies, Health Effects of Air Pollution, Indoor Air Quality, Monitoring


The primary purpose of this study was to obtain indoor and outdoor air concentration data for benzo[a]pyrene, other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and phthalates in California residences to be used in making exposure predictions. To meet these objectives, a field monitoring study was performed in 125 homes in Riverside, California in the fall of 1990. In each home, two 12-hour indoor air samples were collected during daytime and overnight periods. In a subset of 65 homes, outdoor air samples were also collected. PAH and phthalate concentrations were measured in collected air samples using gas chromatography /mass spectrometry techniques. Along with field monitoring, information on potential source usage in the home was collected using questionnaires. This study was performed in conjunction with an indoor air/personal exposure monitoring study for particulates sponsored by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Prior to statistical analysis, sampling weights were developed. When the sample size was sufficiently large, these weights were applied to the field monitoring results which allowed statistical estimates to be made that represented 61,520 households in Riverside (excluding the area around March Air Force Base) with at least one nonsmoking resident over the age of 10. Mean air concentrations and concentration distributions were calculated for the target PAHs and phthalates in four sample types (indoor/daytime, indoor/nighttime, outdoor/daytime, and outdoor/nighttime). It should be emphasized that results from this study are for one city during a single season and that PAH and phthalate air concentrations and relationships may be different in different seasons and in different parts of the state.

Results showed several interesting trends for the PAHs. First, relative air concentrations for the individual PAH species in all four sample types show highest concentrations for the more volatile, 3- and 4-ringed species and lowest concentrations for the particulate phase 5-, 6-, and 7-ringed species. Highest median air concentrations were found for phenanthrene (8.8 to 16 ng/m3) followed by acenaphthylene (1.8 to 6.9 ng/m3), fluoranthene (1.6 to 23 ng/m3), and pyrene (1.6 to 20 ng/m3). Median concentrations for the particulate phase 5- to 7-ringed species were an order of magnitude lower with lowest median air concentrations reported for benzo[a]pyrene (0.09 to 0.20 ng/m3) and benzo[e]pyrene (0.13 to 0.22 ng/m3). Second, indoor air samples showed little or no increase in median or mean air concentrations compared to outdoor concentrations, although several homes did show very high PAH concentrations. Third, indoor air concentrations for most PAHs, including benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) were higher in homes where smoking took place compared to homes where there was no smoking. The maximum indoor concentration for BaP was 56 ng/m3 compared to the maximum outdoor concentration at 29 ng/m3. Finally, considerably higher nighttime concentrations were reported for outdoor samples compared to the daytime samples. For example, the median nighttime/outdoor air concentration for BaP was 0.19 ng/m3 while the corresponding daytime concentration was less than half that value at 0.09 ng/m3. This trend was seen for alI of the particulate phase 5- to 7-ringed PAHs as well as the more volatile 3-ringed species. This effect probably resulted from photodegradation of PAHs during the day. All of the phthalates (except di-n-octylphthalate) showed high indoor air concenttations compared to the PAHs. Diethylphthalate and di-n-butylphthalate showed the highest indoor air concentrations with median daytime concentrations of 340 and 420 ng/m3, respectively. Median outdoor air levels for the phthalates were at least an order of magnitude lower than the corresponding indoor levels. Di-n-octylphthalate had median concentrations below the quantifiable limit (3.2 ng/m3) for all four sample types. These data suggest that indoor phthalate concentrations arise primarily from indoor sources and that most of the exposure to airborne phthalates will occur indoors.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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