Relations between indoor and outdoor PM2.5 and constituent concentrations

  • Cong Liu
  • Yinping ZhangEmail author
Feature Article


Outdoor PM2.5 influences both the concentration and composition of indoor PM2.5. People spend over 80% of their time indoors. Therefore, to assess possible health effects of PM2.5 it is important to accurately characterize indoor PM2.5 concentrations and composition. Controlling indoor PM2.5 concentration is presently more feasible and economic than decreasing outdoor PM2.5 concentration. This study reviews modeling and measurements that address relationships between indoor and outdoor PM2.5 and the corresponding constituent concentrations. The key factors in the models are indooroutdoor air exchange rate, particle penetration, and deposition. We compiled studies that report I/O ratios of PM2.5 and typical constituents (sulfate (SO 4 2– ), nitrate (NO 3 ), ammonium (NH 4 + ), elemental carbon (EC), and organic carbon (OC), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and manganese (Mn)). From these studies we conclude that: 1) sulfate might be a reasonable tracer of non-volatile species (EC, Fe, Cu, and Mn) and PM2.5 itself; 2) particulate nitrate and ammonium generally desorb to gaseous HNO3 and NH3 when they enter indoors, unless, as seldom happens, they have strong indoor sources; 3) indoor-originating semi-volatile organic compounds sorb on indoor PM2.5, thereby increasing the PM2.5 OC load. We suggest further studies on indoor-outdoor relationships of PM2.5 and constituents so as to help develop standards for healthy buildings.


Indoor air quality Exposure SVOC Reactive oxidative species Oxidative potential Chemical transport model 



This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2017YFC0702700) and the Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51420105010 and 51808107). We thank Louise B. Weschler for English editing.

Supplementary material

11783_2019_1089_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (250 kb)
Relations between indoor and outdoor PM2.5 and constituent concentrations


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Energy and EnvironmentSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Building ScienceTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Key Laboratory of Indoor Air Quality Evaluation and ControlBeijingChina

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