Risk assessment of indoor formaldehyde and other carbonyls in campus environments in northwestern China

Steven Sai Hang Ho, Yan Cheng, Yi Bai, Kin Fai Ho, Wen Ting Dai, Jun Ji Cao, Shuncheng Lee, Yu Huang, Ho Sai Simon Ip, Wen Jing Deng, Wei Guo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Risk assessment for indoor formaldehyde and other carbonyls was investigated at an university in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. Eight representative locations, including six indoor workplaces and two residential units of staff apartments and a student dormitory, were chosen. The indoor pollution origins were identified according to the variability in molar composition and correlation analysis for the target species. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), cooking activities, and office technologies such as printers and copiers can produce different degrees of carbonyls in the workplace. A one-year demonstration study conducted in a apartment showed significance of the off-gases from lacquers and new wooden furniture. The concentrations of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the most sampling locations were above the recommended exposure limits, reflecting a potential health risk to workers and occupants. Chronic daily intake (CDI) and lifetime cancer hazard risk (R) were calculated to assess the carcinogenic risks of chronic exposure to the carbonyls. The R values for formaldehyde exceeded the alarm level of 1 × 10–6in all sampled workplaces, but lower R values were associated with acetaldehyde. The results indicate that exposure of formaldehyde is a critical occupational health and safety concern. In addition, high risks associated with formaldehyde were also measured in the staff apartment, suggesting that the refurbishing materials and wooden furniture can potentially cause health impacts to occupants. The findings are informative to be referred in establishment of indoor air quality guidelines in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1967-1980
Number of pages14
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Cancer risk
  • Carbonyls
  • Indoor pollution
  • University campus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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