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    Composition of PM2.5 and PM1 on high and low pollution event days and its relation to indoor air quality in a home for the elderly

    Buczynska, AJ, Krata, A, Van Grieken, R, Brown, A, Polezer, G, De Wael, K and Potgieter-Vermaak, S (2014) Composition of PM2.5 and PM1 on high and low pollution event days and its relation to indoor air quality in a home for the elderly. Science of the Total Environment, 490. ISSN 0048-9697


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    Many studies probing the link between air quality and health have pointed towards associations between particulate matter (PM) exposure and decreased lung function, aggravation of respiratory diseases like asthma, premature death and increased hospitalisation admissions for the elderly and individuals with cardiopulmonary diseases. Of recent, it is believed that the chemical composition and physical properties of PM may contribute significantly to these adverse health effects. As part of a Belgian Science Policy project (“Health effects of particulate matter in relation to physical–chemical characteristics and meteorology”), the chemical composition (elemental and ionic compositions) and physical properties (PM mass concentrations) of PM were investigated, indoors and outdoors of old age homes in Antwerp. The case reported here specifically relates to high versus normal/low pollution event periods. PM mass concentrations for PM1 and PM2.5 fractions were determined gravimetrically after collection via impaction. These same samples were hence analysed by EDXRF spectrometry and IC for their elemental and ionic compositions, respectively. During high pollution event days, PM mass concentrations inside the old age home reached 53 μg m− 3 and 32 μg m− 3 whilst outside concentrations were 101 μg m− 3 and 46 μg m− 3 for PM2.5 and PM1, respectively. The sum of nss-sulphate, nitrate and ammonium, dominate the composition of PM, and contribute the most towards an increase in the PM during the episode days constituting 64% of ambient PM2.5 (52 μg m− 3) compared to 39% on non-episode days (10 μg m− 3). Other PM components, such as mineral dust, sea salt or heavy metals were found to be considerably higher during PM episodes but relatively less important. Amongst heavy metals Zn and Pb were found at the highest concentrations in both PM2.5 and PM1. Acid–base ionic balance equations were calculated and point to acidic aerosols during event days and acidic to alkaline aerosols during non-event days. No significant sources of indoor pollutants could be identified inside the old-age home as high correlations were found between outdoor and indoor PM, confirming mainly the outdoor origin of indoor air.

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