Indoor aerosols: From personal exposure to risk assessment

L. Morawska, A. Afshari, G. N. Bae, G. Buonanno, C. Y.H. Chao, O. Hänninen, W. Hofmann, C. Isaxon, E. R. Jayaratne, P. Pasanen, T. Salthammer, M. Waring, A. Wierzbicka

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

358 Citations (Scopus)


Motivated by growing considerations of the scale, severity, and risks associated with human exposure to indoor particulate matter, this work reviewed existing literature to: (i) identify state-of-the-art experimental techniques used for personal exposure assessment; (ii) compare exposure levels reported for domestic/school settings in different countries (excluding exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and particulate matter from biomass cooking in developing countries); (iii) assess the contribution of outdoor background vs indoor sources to personal exposure; and (iv) examine scientific understanding of the risks posed by personal exposure to indoor aerosols. Limited studies assessing integrated daily residential exposure to just one particle size fraction, ultrafine particles, show that the contribution of indoor sources ranged from 19% to 76%. This indicates a strong dependence on resident activities, source events and site specificity, and highlights the importance of indoor sources for total personal exposure. Further, it was assessed that 10-30% of the total burden of disease from particulate matter exposure was due to indoor-generated particles, signifying that indoor environments are likely to be a dominant environmental factor affecting human health. However, due to challenges associated with conducting epidemiological assessments, the role of indoor-generated particles has not been fully acknowledged, and improved exposure/risk assessment methods are still needed, together with a serious focus on exposure control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-487
Number of pages26
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Burden of disease from particulate matter exposure
  • Domestic indoor particulate matter
  • Indoor particulate matter
  • Methods for personal exposure assessment
  • Personal exposure
  • School indoor particulate matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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