Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in residential indoor air during interior finish period: Sources, variations, and health risks

Elsevier, Hygiene and Environmental Health Advances, Volume 9, March 2024
Mai J.-L., Yang W.-W., Zeng Y., Guan Y.-F., Chen S.-J.

Building and furniture materials are significant sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and determine their long-time indoor levels. However, the variations of indoor VOCs and associated health risks of interior finishers during the construction stages are poorly understood. In this study, VOCs in the indoor microenvironments were measured at different interior finishing stages at two renovated residences using thermal desorption and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The mean concentrations of the Σ15 VOCs were 118.2 μg/m3 in Home A and 232.5 μg/m3 in Home B. The simultaneous outdoor levels were approximately three times lower than indoors. The VOC concentrations were obviously lower than previous measurements in newly renovated residences, reflecting reduced use of these VOCs in interior materials. Temporal variations in the VOC concentrations during the interior finish period were compound- or room-dependent at each residence The remarkable rise in the VOC concentrations was largely affected by furniture installation at both residences. The non-cancer risks of VOC exposure were lower for both interior finishers and occupants. However, the cumulative cancer risks for interior finishers (1.2 × 10−4) exceed the acceptable threshold limit. The occupational exposure at the wall painting stage was the highest, and formaldehyde is the most significant contributor to both cancer and noncancer risks. This study also highlights the importance of detecting novel VOCs that may be present in interior finish materials as indicated by the TVOC measurements.