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Airborne Particulate Matter in School Classrooms of Northern Italy

Dipartimento di Scienza e Alta Tecnologia, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, via Vallegio 11, Como 22100, Italy
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Cliniche "L. Sacco", Università degli Studi di Milano, via G.B. Grassi 74, Milano 20157, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(2), 1398-1421;
Received: 29 November 2013 / Revised: 23 December 2013 / Accepted: 18 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
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Indoor size-fractioned particulate matter (PM) was measured in seven schools in Milan, to characterize their concentration levels in classrooms, compare the measured concentrations with the recommended guideline values, and provide a preliminary assessment of the efficacy of the intervention measures, based on the guidelines developed by the Italian Ministry of Healthand applied to mitigate exposure to undesirable air pollutants. Indoor sampling was performed from Monday morning to Friday afternoon in three classrooms of each school and was repeated in winter 2011–2012 and 2012–2013. Simultaneously, PM2.5 samples were also collected outdoors. Two different photometers were used to collect the PM continuous data, which were corrected a posteriori using simultaneous gravimetric PM2.5 measurements. Furthermore, the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) were monitored and used to determine the Air Exchange Rates in the classrooms. The results revealed poor IAQ in the school environment. In several cases, the PM2.5 and PM10 24 h concentrations exceeded the 24 h guideline values established by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, the indoor CO2 levels often surpassed the CO2 ASHRAE Standard. Our findings confirmed that important indoor sources (human movements, personal clouds, cleaning activities) emitted coarse particles, markedly increasing the measured PM during school hours. In general, the mean PM2.5 indoor concentrations were lower than the average outdoor PM2.5 levels, with I/O ratios generally <1. Fine PM was less affected by indoor sources, exerting a major impact on the PM1–2.5 fraction. Over half of the indoor fine particles were estimated to originate from outdoors. To a first approximation, the intervention proposed to reduce indoor particle levels did not seem to significantly influence the indoor fine PM concentrations. Conversely, the frequent opening of doors and windows appeared to significantly contribute to the reduction of the average indoor CO2 levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: school environment; indoor PM sources; PM exposure assessment; exposure mitigation; intervention measures; risk management school environment; indoor PM sources; PM exposure assessment; exposure mitigation; intervention measures; risk management

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Rovelli, S.; Cattaneo, A.; Nuzzi, C.P.; Spinazzè, A.; Piazza, S.; Carrer, P.; Cavallo, D.M. Airborne Particulate Matter in School Classrooms of Northern Italy. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 1398-1421.

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