Indoor Air Quality
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature. Organic refers to carbon-based molecules. Many of which are known to be harmful to human health. Chemical contamination of indoor air is a contributing factor to the so called "Sick Building Syndrome", an issue in buildings or for the vehicle interior air quality (VIAQ).
VOCs are emitted by normal household products (e.g. air fresheners), construction materials, furniture, materials used to construct car or aircraft cabins and many chemicals used in our everyday lives. Some of them come with an odor we experience as an unpleasant smell, whilst others are not perceptible by the human nose. Indoor air is polluted often stronger than outdoor. This is a serious health concern for people e.g. while working in offices or production plants, traveling in cars (VIAQ) or aircrafts and living in polluted buildings.
Levels of VOC exposure vary widely depending on the volume of air and its exchange rate, ventilation of the room as well as the outdoor air concentration. It typically ranges from sub-pptv levels to percent. Different materials have specific rates of VOC emissions which needs to be taken into account.
Results of PTR-MS measurements - indoor air quality levels
Most of the relevant VOCs for the indoor air quality are easily quantifiable with PTR-MS (detection limit as low as 1 pptv) such as Benzene, Toluene, Xylene and many other harmful substances having an impact on health or being perceptable as a malodor.
PTR-MS can help to ensure better air quality through analyzing the air polluting VOCs in real-time. The IONICON team can design a solution tailored to your monitoring needs, with a one-button user-interface on a touchscreen display, customized to the substances your are interested in.
Scientists have conducted studies to analyze the ozone-initiated chemistry in an occupied simulated aircraft cabin using an IONICON PTR-MS. A recent study by Weschler et al.* suggests interactions between skin oils and ozone, leading to chemical byproducts that might have impact on nasal irritation, headaches, dry eyes and lips and other common air traveler complaints.
In a reconstructed section of a B-767 aircraft containing human occupants, ozone was added to cabin air during simulated 4-hour flights. Most byproducts were derived from surface reactions with occupants and their clothing. Among the measured VOCs were nonanal and decanal, a pair of aldehyde compounds associated with headaches, nasal irritation and with others symptoms of "sick building" syndrome. The study may have implications on future passenger comfort as it might influence the industry to install and maintain filter solutions in all commercial aircraft and to conduct further studies monitoring the relevant VOCs continuously.