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Passive indoor air sampling for consumer product chemicals: a field evaluation study


Innovative exposure measurement methods are needed for large environmental health studies, particularly for semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Active air sampling methods are costly to implement, but passive air sampling presents a viable method. To expand and improve the use of passive air samplers (PAS) for indoor SVOC monitoring, we designed a unique, compact sampler using commercially available polyurethane foam (PUF) disks housed within durable, easy-to-setup, low-profile enclosures. We evaluated the new design using co-located active air samplers (AAS) and analyzed for SVOCs. Most of the targeted SVOCs found using active sampling (27 of 33) were also detected using passive sampling. We found good agreement (R2 = 0.88) between active and passive sampling methods for characterizing the relative abundance of each chemical, and the measured active sampler concentrations and passive sampler masses were significantly positively correlated for 14 of 21 chemicals, for which correlations could be estimated. We found that measurements of many SVOCs originating from consumer products and typically found in the gas-phase (log KOA < 10) can be reliably ranked—and thus appropriate for epidemiological studies—using this PAS design. These SVOCs include diethyl phthalate, AHTN, HHCB, tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, dibutyl phthalate, and tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate, as well as methyl paraben, benzophenone, and benzophenone-3, which have not previously been measured by passive sampling. This PAS can be used in epidemiological studies involving consumer product chemicals and complements other novel exposure tools.

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This work was supported by the Swain Barber Foundation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (Grant No. MAHHU0005-12), and charitable contributions to Silent Spring Institute.

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Correspondence to Robin E. Dodson.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Dodson, R.E., Bessonneau, V., Udesky, J.O. et al. Passive indoor air sampling for consumer product chemicals: a field evaluation study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 29, 95–108 (2019).

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  • polyurethane foam (PUF)
  • passive air sampler (PAS)
  • semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs)
  • phthalates
  • consumer products
  • residential exposures


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