The use of selective materials to reduce human exposure to ozone and oxides of nitrogen
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Ozone (O₃) and oxides of nitrogen (NO[subscript x]) are ubiquitous pollutants in many urban areas around the world. Though they mostly originate outdoors, human inhalation exposure to these pollutants largely occurs indoors, because of the large fraction of our time spent inside buildings. Exposure to O₃ and nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) has been associated with decreased respiratory function, onset of asthma, and cardiovascular events. Through laboratory testing, field exposure and modeling, this study evaluates the feasibility and long-term efficiency of using passive removal materials (PRMs) both indoors and outdoors for removal of O₃ and NO[subscript x]. Three photocatalytic coatings used outdoors and four indoor building materials were tested for their capacity to remove NO[subscript x] and O₃. Since materials outdoors experience a wider range of environmental conditions than indoors, their effects on NO[subscript x] removal by photocatalytic coatings were evaluated through full factorial experiments representative of summertime outdoor conditions in Southeast Texas. Photocatalytic coatings were also exposed to real outdoor environments for a year to assess their long-term viability. Indoor materials were exposed to real indoor environments for a six-month period and tested monthly for their capacity to remove O₃. Carbonyl emissions from these materials before and after exposure to O₃ were also tested at regular intervals during the six-month period. Finally, removal capacity of NO and NO₂ by new indoor building materials was tested as well. For outdoor PRMs, results suggest that the effect of certain environmental parameters (contact time, relative humidity, temperature) on NO[subscript x] removal effectiveness are consistent across different photocatalytic coatings, while other effects are coating specific. The type of semiconductor used and resistance to wear of the coating are important factors in its ability to retain removal efficacy over time. For indoor PRMs, two of the four materials tested, an activated carbon mat and perlite-based ceiling tiles, exhibited consistent O₃ removal effectiveness over time with low carbonyl emissions, both before and after ozonation. All materials except for activated carbon mat had higher post-ozonation than pre-ozonation emissions. Post-ozonation emissions were dominated by nonanal. Simulation of the use of indoor and outdoor PRMs on a model building through multi-zone/CFD modeling showed that indoor PRMs alone could lead to concentration reductions up to 18 % for O₃ and 23 % for NO₂ in rooms of the model building selected. Addition of PRMs on the outside of the building led to small reductions in pollutant concentrations in the air infiltrating into the building, leading to negligible changes in indoor concentrations.