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Characterization of Chemical and Microbial Species from Size-Segregated Indoor and Outdoor Particulate Samples

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Volume: 13 | Issue: 4 | Pages: 1212-1230
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2012.11.0300
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Olli Sippula 1, Helena Rintala2, Mikko Happo1, Pasi Jalava1, Kari Kuuspalo1, Annika Virén1, Ari Leskinen3, Ari Markkanen2, Mika Komppula3, Piia Markkanen2, Kari Lehtinen3,4, Jorma Jokiniemi1,5, Maija-Riitta Hirvonen1,2

  • 1 University of Eastern Finland, Department of Environmental Science, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211, Kuopio, Finland
  • 2 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Environmental Health, P.O. Box 95, 70100, Kuopio, Finland
  • 3 Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit, P.O. Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland
  • 4 University of Eastern Finland, Department of Applied Physics, Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland
  • 5 VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O. Box 1000, 02044, VTT, Finland


The respirable particles in both outdoor and indoor air contain several different components that are considered to have adverse health effects; e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), various metals and microbial species. In this study, size segregated particle samples were collected for chemical, microbial and toxicological analyses from the indoor and outdoor air during each season of the year. The indoor sampling was carried out in a new, detached house with a novel sampling approach. The inorganic species accounted for 8–43% of the total respirable particles. The highest fine particle metal concentrations, both outdoors and indoors, were observed during summer, when the air quality was affected by wildfire smoke plumes, while in coarse particles the total metal concentrations were the highest during the spring, due to the high contribution from mineral dust. The PAH concentrations were 1.3 to 4.8 times higher in outdoor than in indoor air, and they were clearly the highest during winter, most probably due to residential heating, which is a major PAH source. PAHs with four rings had the largest contribution to the total PAHs. Microbial DNA was observed in all size classes, but the highest concentrations were measured in the coarse (PM2.5–10) fraction. The microbial concentrations were higher in the indoor air samples during winter, while in the outdoor ones during summer.


Ambient aerosol Indoor aerosol PAH Microbes Particle chemical composition I/O-ratio

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