Urban Pollutant Transport and Infiltration into Buildings Using Perfluorocarbon Tracers

James Matthews, Asan Bacak, Anwar Khan, Matthew Wright, Michael Priestley, Damien Martin, Carl Percival, Dudley Shallcross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
347 Downloads (Pure)


People spend the majority of their time indoors and therefore the quality of indoor air is worthy of investigation; indoor air quality is affected by indoor sources of pollutants and from pollutants entering buildings from outdoors. In this study, unique perfluorocarbon tracers were released in five experiments at a 100 m and ~2 km distance from a large university building in Manchester, UK and tracer was also released inside the building to measure the amount of outdoor material penetrating into buildings and the flow of material within the building itself. Air samples of the tracer were taken in several rooms within the building, and a CO2 tracer was used within the building to estimate air-exchange rates. Air-exchange rates were found to vary between 0.57 and 10.90 per hour. Indoor perfluorocarbon tracer concentrations were paired to outdoor tracer concentrations, and in-out ratios were found to vary between 0.01 and 3.6. The largest room with the lowest air-exchange rate exhibited elevated tracer concentrations for over 60 min after the release had finished, but generally had the lowest concentrations, the room with the highest ventilation rates had the highest concentration over 30 min, but the peak decayed more rapidly. Tracer concentrations indoors compared to outdoors imply that pollutants remain within buildings after they have cleared outside, which must be considered when evaluating human exposure to outdoor pollutants
Original languageEnglish
Article number214
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Early online date21 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Indoor Air Quality and Health 2016


  • Indoor air quality
  • IAQ
  • Air pollution
  • Dispersion experiments
  • Dynamics of indoor air contaminants
  • Human exposure
  • Indoor/outdoor ratio
  • Perfluorocarbons
  • Tracer
  • Infiltration


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