Effect of Outside Air Ventilation Rate on Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations in a Call Center

Effect of Outside Air Ventilation Rate on Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations in a Call Center

TitleEffect of Outside Air Ventilation Rate on Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations in a Call Center
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsAlfred T Hodgson, David Faulkner, Douglas P Sullivan, Dennis L DiBartolomeo, Marion L Russell, William J Fisk
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Volume37
Issue39-40
Pagination5517-5528
Date Published12/2003
Keywordsformaldehyde, indoor air quality, Office Building, Principal component analysis, VOC emission rates
Abstract

A study of the relationship between outside air ventilation rate and concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) generated indoors was conducted in a call center office building. The building, with two floors and a total floor area of 4600 m2, is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. Ventilation rates were manipulated with the building's four air handling units (AHUs). VOC and CO2 concentrations in the AHU returns were measured on 7 days during a 13-week period. VOC emission factors were determined for individual zones on days when they were operating at near steady-state conditions. The emission factor data were subjected to principal component (PC) analysis to identify groups of co-varying compounds. Potential sources of the PC vectors were ascribed based on information from the literature. The per occupant CO2 generation rates were 0.0068–0.0092 l s−1. The per occupant isoprene generation rates of 0.2–0.3 mg h−1 were consistent with the value predicted by mass balance from breath concentration and exhalation rate. The relationships between indoor minus outdoor VOC concentrations and ventilation rate were qualitatively examined for eight VOCs. Of these, acetaldehyde and hexanal, which likely were associated with material sources, and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, associated with personal care products, exhibited general trends of higher concentrations at lower ventilation rates. For other compounds, a clear inverse relationship between VOC concentrations and ventilation was not observed. The net concentration of 2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3-pentanediol monoisobutyrate isomers, examples of low-volatility compounds, changed very little with ventilation likely due to sorption and re-emission effects. These results illustrate that the efficacy of ventilation for controlling VOC concentrations can vary considerably depending upon the operation of the building, the pollutant sources and the physical and chemical processes affecting the pollutants. Thus, source control measures, in addition to adequate ventilation, are required to limit concentrations of VOCs in office buildings.

Notes

Presented at Proceedings of the Indoor Air 2002 Conference, Monterey, CA. Volume 2. Pagination 168-173.Abstract from conference proceedings: A study of the relationship between outside air ventilation rate and concentrations of VOCs generated indoors was conducted in a call center. Ventilation rates were manipulated in the building's four air handling units (AHUs). Concentrations of VOCs in the AHU returns were measured on 7 days during a 13- week period. Indoor minus outdoor concentrations and emission factors were calculated. The emission factor data was subjected to principal component analysis to identify groups of co-varying compounds based on source type. One vector represented emissions of solvents from cleaning products. Another vector identified occupant sources. Direct relationships between ventilation rate and concentrations were not observed for most of the abundant VOCs. This result emphasizes the importance of source control measures for limiting VOC concentrations in buildings.

DOI10.1016/j.atmosenv.2003.09.028
LBNL Report Number

LBNL-49535