Exposure to multiple air contaminants in public buildings, schools and kindergartens-the European indoor air monitoring and exposure assessment (airmex) study

Dimitrios Kotzias, Otmar Geiss, Salvatore Tirendi, Barrero Moreno Josefa, Vittorio Reina, Alberto Gotti, Cimino Reale Graziella, Barbara Casati, Erminio Marafante, Dimosthenis Sarigiannis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The European Indoor Air Monitoring and Exposure Assessment Project (AIRMEX) (2003-2008) was designed with the aim to identify and quantify the principal air contaminants present in public buildings, including indoor environments frequented by children, like in schools and kindergartens, and to evaluate to what extent people's exposure to these pollutants is affected while working and/or remaining in these areas. Within this frame, measuring campaigns in eleven European cities located in Southern, Central and Northern Europe were carried out to monitor indoor/outdoor and personal exposure concentrations of selected volatile hydrocarbons (VOCs) including low molecular weight carbonyls (CARB). In total, about 1000 samples from 182 working environments (offices, class rooms, waiting halls) in public buildings, schools and kindergartens, from 103 private (home) places and from adult volunteers (148 samples) were analysed for VOCs and CARBs. The campaigns were carried out twice in each site at different seasons to evaluate possible climate-related variations in indoor, outdoor and exposure concentrations. The results indicate that indoor air pollution values are higher than the respective outdoor ones for the chemical families this study is focused on. Personal exposure concentrations were higher or similar to indoor as well as significantly higher than outdoor ones. In some cases, home indoor concentrations by far exceeded public building and school/ kindergarten levels, and dominated personal exposures indicating the presence of strong indoor sources at home. For some compounds (e.g. benzene, formaldehyde) median or mean average and 95th percentile personal exposures and indoor concentrations are well above health benchmarks, so that outdoor concentration measurements alone would underestimate long-term health risks from human exposure to these pollutants. The non-cancer effect of the combined exposure to the main VOCs at the levels meas-ured in the campaigns was investigated using whole genome gene expression micro-arrays (toxicogenomics). The results show that the presence of toluene in indoor air mixtures comprising benzene and other single aromatic compounds enhances non-carcinogenic responses like inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-681
Number of pages12
JournalFresenius Environmental Bulletin
Volume18
Issue number5 A
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • AIRMEX
  • Aldehydes
  • Benzene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Indoor
  • Passive sampling
  • Personal exposure
  • Volatile hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Chemistry

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  • Cite this

    Kotzias, D., Geiss, O., Tirendi, S., Josefa, B. M., Reina, V., Gotti, A., Graziella, C. R., Casati, B., Marafante, E., & Sarigiannis, D. (2009). Exposure to multiple air contaminants in public buildings, schools and kindergartens-the European indoor air monitoring and exposure assessment (airmex) study. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 18(5 A), 670-681.