Formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds in Hong Kong homes: Concentrations and impact factors

Hai Guo, N. H. Kwok, H. R. Cheng, Shuncheng Lee, W. T. Hung, Yok Sheung Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOC) concentrations, potential sources and impact factors in 100 homes. The 24-h average formaldehyde concentration in 37 homes exceeded the good class of the Hong Kong Indoor Air Quality Objectives (HKIAQO), whereas the total VOCs concentration in all homes was lower than the HKIAQO. Compared to other East Asian cities, indoor formaldehyde and styrene in Hong Kong was the highest, reflecting that the homes in Hong Kong were more affected by household products and materials. The formaldehyde concentration in newly built apartments was significantly higher than that in old buildings, whereas no relationship between the concentration and the building age was found for VOCs. There was no difference for formaldehyde and toluene between smoking and non-smoking homes, suggesting that cigarette smoking was not the major source of these two species. Homes of a couple with a child had higher formaldehyde and acetic acid concentrations, while homes with more than three people had higher concentrations of 1-butanol, heptane and d-limonene. When shoes were inside the homes, heptane, acetic acid, nonane and styrene concentrations were statistically higher than that when shoes were out of the homes. Furthermore, higher levels of 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, styrene, nonane and heptane were found in gas-use families rather than in electricity-use homes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • Building age
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Formaldehyde
  • Homes
  • Hong Kong
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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