To assess the effect of the indoor environment on the urban fate of organic chemicals, an 8-compartment indoor-inclusive steady state multimedia chemical fate model was developed. The model includes typical urban compartments (air, soil, water, sediment, and urban film) and a novel module representing a generic indoor environment. The model was parameterized to the municipality of Stockholm, Sweden and applied to four organic chemicals with different physical–chemical characteristics and use patterns: formaldehyde, 2,4,6-tribromophenol, di-ethylhexylphthalate and decabromodiphenyl ether. The results show that emissions to indoor air may increase the steady state mass and residence time in the urban environment by a factor of 1.1 to 22 for the four chemicals, compared to if emissions are assigned to outdoor air. This is due to the nested nature of the indoor environment, which creates a physical barrier that prevents chemicals from leaving the urban system with outflowing air. For DEHP and BDE 209, the additional partitioning to indoor surfaces results in a greater importance of the indoor removal pathways from surfaces. The outdoor environmental concentrations of these chemicals are predicted to be lower if emitted to indoor air than if emitted to outdoor air because of the additional indoor removal pathways of dust and indoor film, leading to loss of chemical from the system. For formaldehyde and 2,4,6-TBP outdoor environmental concentrations are not affected by whether the release occurs indoors or outdoors because of the limited partitioning to indoor surfaces. A sensitivity analysis revealed that there appears to be a relationship between logKOA and the impact of the ventilation rate on the urban fate of organic chemicals.
Elsevier, 2012. Vol. 438, 233-241 p.