Comprehensive influence of environmental factors on the emission rate of formaldehyde and VOCs in building materials: Correlation development and exposure assessment

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Abstract

Temperature and relative humidity can simultaneously change in indoor environment, which significantly affect the emission rate of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials. Prior studies generally focus on the single effect of temperature or relative humidity, and the combined effect is not considered. This paper investigates the comprehensive influence of temperature and relative humidity on the emission rate of pollutants from building materials. Correlation between the emission rate and the combined environmental factors is derived theoretically. Data in literature are applied to validate the effectiveness of the correlation. With the correlation, the indoor formaldehyde concentration in summer is predicted to be 1.63 times of that in winter in Beijing, which is approximately consistent with surveyed data. In addition, a novel approach is proposed to assess the human health impact due to pollutants emitted from building materials at varied temperature and relative humidity. An association between the human carcinogenic potential (HCP) and the environmental factors is obtained. By introducing a reference room model developed previously, it is calculated that the HCP of bedroom at high relative humidity (70%, 25 °C) for formaldehyde exceeds 10−4 cases, meaning high cancer health risk. This study should prove useful for evaluating the emission behaviors and the associated exposure of pollutants from building materials at varied environmental conditions.

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