Characterisation and source identification of selected pollutants in house dust

Elbagir, Sohair G. (2011) Characterisation and source identification of selected pollutants in house dust. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


House dust is a heterogeneous matrix, which contains a number of biological materials and particulate matter gathered from several sources. It is the accumulation of a number of semi-volatile and non-volatile contaminants. The contaminants are trapped and preserved. Therefore, house dust can be viewed as an archive of both the indoor and outdoor air pollution. There is evidence to show that on average, people tend to stay indoors most of the time and this increases exposure to house dust. The aims of this investigation were to: " assess the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), elements and pesticides in the indoor environment of the Brisbane area; " identify and characterise the possible sources of elemental constituents (inorganic elements), PAHs and pesticides by means of Positive Matrix Factorisation (PMF); and " establish the correlations between the levels of indoor air pollutants (PAHs, elements and pesticides) with the external and internal characteristics or attributes of the buildings and indoor activities by means of multivariate data analysis techniques. The dust samples were collected during the period of 2005-2007 from homes located in different suburbs of Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba, in South East Queensland, Australia. A vacuum cleaner fitted with a paper bag was used as a sampler for collecting the house dust. A survey questionnaire was filled by the house residents which contained information about the indoor and outdoor characteristics of their residences. House dust samples were analysed for three different pollutants: Pesticides, Elements and PAHs. The analyses were carried-out for samples of particle size less than 250 µm. The chemical analyses for both pesticides and PAHs were performed using a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), while elemental analysis was carried-out by using Inductively-Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The data was subjected to multivariate data analysis techniques such as multi-criteria decision-making procedures, Preference Ranking Organisation Method for Enrichment Evaluations (PROMETHEE), coupled with Geometrical Analysis for Interactive Aid (GAIA) in order to rank the samples and to examine data display. This study showed that compared to the results from previous works, which were carried-out in Australia and overseas, the concentrations of pollutants in house dusts in Brisbane and the surrounding areas were relatively very high. The results of this work also showed significant correlations between some of the physical parameters (types of building material, floor level, distance from industrial areas and major road, and smoking) and the concentrations of pollutants. Types of building materials and the age of houses were found to be two of the primary factors that affect the concentrations of pesticides and elements in house dust. The concentrations of these two types of pollutant appear to be higher in old houses (timber houses) than in the brick ones. In contrast, the concentrations of PAHs were noticed to be higher in brick houses than in the timber ones. Other factors such as floor level, and distance from the main street and industrial area, also affected the concentrations of pollutants in the house dust samples. To apportion the sources and to understand mechanisms of pollutants, Positive Matrix Factorisation (PMF) receptor model was applied. The results showed that there were significant correlations between the degree of concentration of contaminants in house dust and the physical characteristics of houses, such as the age and the type of the house, the distance from the main road and industrial areas, and smoking. Sources of pollutants were identified. For PAHs, the sources were cooking activities, vehicle emissions, smoking, oil fumes, natural gas combustion and traces of diesel exhaust emissions; for pesticides the sources were application of pesticides for controlling termites in buildings and fences, treating indoor furniture and in gardens for controlling pests attacking horticultural and ornamental plants; for elements the sources were soil, cooking, smoking, paints, pesticides, combustion of motor fuels, residual fuel oil, motor vehicle emissions, wearing down of brake linings and industrial activities.

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ID Code: 49842
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Ayoko, Godwin
Keywords: indoor air quality, indoor air pollution, indoor environmental quality, hazardous air pollutants, sick building syndromes, house dust
Divisions: Past > Schools > Chemistry
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Apr 2012 06:56
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2012 06:56

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