Children spend over 6 h a day in schools and have higher asthma morbidity from school environmental exposures. The present study aims to determine indoor and outdoor possible sources affecting indoor PM2.5 in classrooms. Weeklong indoor PM2.5 samples were collected from 32 inner-city schools from a Northeastern U.S. community during three seasons (fall, winter and spring) during the years 2009 to 2013. Concurrently, daily outdoor PM2.5 samples were taken at a central monitoring site located at a median distance of 4974 m (range 1065–11,592 m) from the schools. Classroom indoor concentrations of PM2.5 (an average of 5.2 μg/m3) were lower than outdoors (an average of 6.5 μg/m3), and these averages were in the lower range compared to the findings in other schools' studies. The USEPA PMF model was applied to the PM2.5 components measured simultaneously from classroom indoor and outdoor to estimate the source apportionment. The major sources (contributions) identified across all seasons of indoor PM2.5 were secondary pollution (41%) and motor vehicles (17%), followed by Calcium (Ca)-rich particles (12%), biomass burning (15%), soil dust (6%), and marine aerosols (4%). Likewise, the major sources of outdoor PM2.5 across all seasons were secondary pollution (41%) and motor vehicles (26%), followed by biomass burning (17%), soil dust (7%), road dust (3%), and marine aerosols (1%). Secondary pollution was the greatest contributor to indoor and outdoor PM2.5 over all three seasons, with the highest contribution during spring with 53% to indoor PM2.5 and 45% to outdoor PM2.5. Lower contributions of this source during fall and winter are most likely attributed to less infiltration indoors. In contrast, the indoor contribution of motor vehicles source was highest in the fall (29%) and winter (25%), which was presumably categorized by a local source. From the relationship between indoor-to-outdoor sulfur ratios and each source contribution, we also estimated the local and regional influence on indoor PM2.5 concentration. Overall, the observed differences to indoor PM2.5 are related to seasonality, and the distinct characteristics and behavior of each classroom/school.
Carrion-Matta, A., Kang, C. M., Gaffin, J. M., Hauptman, M., Phipatanakul, W., Koutrakis, P., & Gold, D. R. (2019). Classroom indoor PM2.5 sources and exposures in inner-city schools. Environment International, 131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.104968