Airborne particulate matter and gaseous air pollutants in residential structures in Lodi province, Italy

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The province of Lodi is located in northern Italy on the Po River plain, where high background levels of air pollutants are prevalent. Lodi province is characterized by intensive agriculture, notably animal husbandry. This paper assesses indoor levels of selected airborne pollutants in 60 homes in the province, with special attention to size-fractionated particulate matter (PM). Indoor PM2.5 concentrations are frequently higher than current guidelines. PM10 and nitrogen dioxide also exceed the respective guideline recommendations in some cases, noting that 24-h nitrogen dioxide levels were compared with an annual limit value. All other studied pollutant levels are below current international guidelines. Among indoor PM size fractions, PM0.5 is predominant in terms of mass concentrations corresponding to 57% of PM10 in summer and 71% in winter. A strong seasonal trend is observed for all studied pollutants, with higher levels in winter corresponding to changes in ambient concentrations. The seasonal variation in PM10 is largely due to PM0.5 increase from summer to winter. Summer indoor PM levels are mainly from indoor-generated particles, while particles of outdoor origin represent the main contribution to winter indoor PM levels. On average, indoor concentrations of coarse PM are mostly constituted by indoor-generated particles.

Practical Implications

This study presents a comparison between measured indoor concentrations in the study area and indoor air quality guideline criteria. Accordingly, particulate matter (PM) and NO2 are identified as key pollutants that may pose health concerns. It is also found that indoor PM in residential units is mainly constituted by particles with aerodynamic diameters <0.5 μm, especially in winter. Risk mitigation strategies should be focused on the reduction in indoor levels of NO2 and ultrafine and fine particles, both infiltrated from outdoors and generated by indoor sources.

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