An assessment of indoor air concentrations and health risks of volatile organic compounds in three primary schools
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Concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde, in classrooms, kindergartens, and outdoor playgrounds of three primary schools were measured in spring, winter, and fall terms in Izmir, Turkey. A health-risk assessment was conducted for odor detection, sensory irritation, chronic toxic effects, and cancer. Active sampling was applied for VOCs and formaldehyde on Tenax TA and DNPH tubes, respectively. VOCs were analyzed in a thermal desorption-GC-MS system. Formaldehyde analysis was performed using an HPLC instrument. Benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde were the most abundant compounds with 95th percentile indoor air concentrations of 29, 87, and 106μg/m3, respectively. Naphthalene and xylenes followed them with an order of magnitude lower concentrations. Two isomers of dichlorobenzene (1,3 and 1,4) were the other notable compounds. The concentrations were utilized to classify the indoor air pollutants with respect to potential health effects. In addition, carcinogenic and chronic toxic risks were estimated using Monte-Carlo simulation. Formaldehyde appears to be the most concerning pollutant with high chronic toxic and carcinogenic risk levels according to the health assessment followed by naphthalene, benzene, and toluene due to their chronic effects.