Assessment of ultrafine particles in primary schools: Emphasis on different indoor microenvironments
Publication date: March 2019
Source: Environmental Pollution, Volume 246
Author(s): Klara Slezakova, Eduardo de Oliveira Fernandes, Maria do Carmo Pereira
Due to the negative health impacts, significant efforts have been directed towards investigating ultrafine particle (UFP) exposure in various indoor environments. As children spend approximately one third of their time in schools, educatory environments deserve particular attention; however, majority of past research has focused on UFP assessment in classrooms. Thus, this work aims to expand the characterization of UFP in primary schools by considering different indoor and outdoor school microenvironments and estimating inhalation doses for the respective students (6–11yrs old). Real-time UFP measurements were daily conducted (9:00–17:30) in 20 primary schools in Oporto (January–April 2014; October–February 2015) in classrooms, canteens, gyms, libraries, and concurrently outdoors. Overall, UFP concentrations showed large temporal and spatial variations. For classrooms (n = 73), median UFP (1.56 × 103–16.8 × 103 # cm−3) were lower than the corresponding levels in ambient air of schools (1.79 × 103–24.1 × 103 # cm−3). Outdoor emissions contributed to indoor UFP (indoor-to-outdoor ratios I/O of 0.0.30–0.85), but ventilation, room characteristics and its occupancy were identified as important parameters contributing to overall indoor UFP levels. Considering specific indoor school microenvironments, canteens were the microenvironment with the highest UFP levels (5.47 × 103–36.4 × 103 # cm−3), cooking conducted directly on school grounds resulted in significantly elevated UFP in the respective classrooms (p < 0.05); the lowest UFP were found in libraries (4.45 × 103–8.50 × 103 # cm−3) mostly due to the limited occupancies. Although students spend majority of their school time in classrooms (66–71%), classroom exposure was not consistently the predominant contributor to school total UFP inhalation dose (29–75%). Outdoor exposure contributed 23–70% of school dose (depending on UFP levels in ambient levels and/or conducted activities) whereas short periods of lunch break accounted for 8–40%. Therefore, when evaluating UFP exposure in educatory settings other microenvironments beyond classrooms should be an integral part of the study.
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