Airborne particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 µg, PM2.5
was regularly sampled in classrooms (indoor) and playgrounds (outdoor) of primary schools from Barcelona. Three of these schools were located downtown and three in the periphery, representing areas with high and low traffic intensities. These aerosols were analyzed for organic molecular tracers and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to identify the main sources of these airborne particles and evaluate the air quality in the urban location of the schools. Traffic emissions were the main contributors of PAHs to the atmospheres in all schools, with higher average concentrations in those located downtown (1800–2700 pg/m3
) than in the periphery (760–1000 pg/m3
). The similarity of the indoor and outdoor concentrations of the PAH is consistent with a transfer of outdoor traffic emissions to the indoor classrooms. This observation was supported by the hopane and elemental carbon concentrations in PM2.5
, markers of motorized vehicles, that were correlated with PAHs. The concentrations of food-related markers, such as glucoses, sucrose, malic, azelaic and fatty acids, were correlated and were higher in the indoor atmospheres. These compounds were also correlated with plastic additives, such as phthalic acid and diisobutyl, dibutyl and dicyclohexyl phthalates. Clothing constituents, e.g., adipic acid, and fragrances, galaxolide and methyl dihydrojasmonate were also correlated with these indoor air compounds. All these organic tracers were correlated with the organic carbon of PM2.5
, which was present in higher concentrations in the indoor than in the outdoor atmospheres.
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