Characterization of winter airborne particles at Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Museum, China

Tafeng HU, Shuncheng LEE, Junji CAO, Judith C. CHOW, John G. WATSON, Kinfai HO, Wing Kei HO, Bo RONG, Zhisheng AN

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Daytime and nighttime total suspended particulate matters (TSP) were collected inside and outside Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Museum, the most popular on-site museum in China, in winter 2008. The purpose of this study was to investigate the contribution of visitors to indoor airborne particles in two display halls with different architectural and ventilating conditions, including Exhibition Hall and Pit No.1. Morphological and elemental analyses of 7-day individual particle samples were performed with scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (SEM-EDX). Particle mass concentrations in Exhibition Hall and Pit No.1 were in a range of 54.7–291.7 μg m⁻³ and 95.3–285.4 μg m⁻³ with maximum diameters of 17.5 μm and 26.0 μm, respectively. In most sampling days, daytime/nighttime particle mass ratios in Exhibition Hall (1.30–3.12) were higher than those in Pit No.1 (0.96–2.59), indicating more contribution of the tourist flow in Exhibition Hall than in Pit No. 1. The maximum of particle size distributions were in a range of 0.5–1.0 μm, with the highest abundance (43.4%) occurred in Exhibition Hall at night. The majority of airborne particles at the Museum was composed of soil dust, S-containing particles, and low-Z particles like soot aggregate and biogenic particles. Both size distributions and particle types were found to be associated with visitor numbers in Exhibition Hall and with natural ventilation in Pit No.1. No significant influence of visitors on indoor temperature and relative humidity (RH) was found in either display halls. Those baseline data on the nature of the airborne particles inside the Museum can be incorporated into the maintenance criteria, display management, and ventilation strategy by conservators of the museum. Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5319-5327
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


Hu, T., Lee, S., Cao, J., Chow, J. C., Watson, J. G., Ho, K., . . . An, Z. (2009). Characterization of winter airborne particles at Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Museum, China. Science of The Total Environment, 407(20), 5319-5327. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.06.044


  • Total suspended particles
  • Indoor air
  • Visitor number
  • Museum


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