Measurement and health risk assessment of PM₂.₅, flame retardants, carbonyls and black carbon in indoor and outdoor air in kindergartens in Hong Kong

Wenjing DENG, Hailong ZHENG, King Yuk Anita WONG-TSUI, Xun Wen CHEN

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Indoor air pollution is closely related to children's health. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and dechlorane plus (DP) transmitted through indoor PM₂.₅ and dust, along with carbonyl compounds and black carbon (BC) aerosol were analysed in five Hong Kong kindergartens. The results showed that 60% of the median PM₂.₅ levels (1.3 × 101 to 2.9 × 10¹ μg/m³ for indoor; 9.5 to 8.8 × 10¹ μg/m³ for outdoor) in the five kindergartens were higher than the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (2.5 × 10¹ μg/m³). Indoor PM₂.₅ mass concentrations were correlated with outdoor PM₂.₅ in four of the kindergartens. The PBDEs (0.10–0.64 ng/m³ in PM₂.₅; 0.30–2.0 × 10² ng/g in dust) and DP (0.05–0.10 ng/m³ in PM₂.₅; 1.3–8.7 ng/g in dust) were detected in 100% of the PM₂.₅ and dust samples. Fire retardant levels in the air were not correlated with the levels of dust in this study. The median BC concentrations varied by > 7-fold from 8.8 × 10² ng/m⁻³ to 6.7 × 10³ng/m⁻³ and cooking events might have caused BC concentrations to rise both indoors and outdoors. The total concentrations of 16 carbonyls ranged from 4.7 × 10¹ μg/m3 to 9.3 × 10¹ μg/m³ indoors and from 1.9 × 10¹ μg/m³ to 4.3 × 10¹ μg/m³ outdoors, whilst formaldehyde was the most abundant air carbonyl. Indoor carbonyl concentrations were correlated with outdoor carbonyls in three kindergartens. The health risk assessment showed that hazard indexes (HIs) HIs of non-cancer risks from PBDEs and DPs were all lower than 0.08, whilst non-cancer HIs of carbonyl compounds ranged from 0.77 to 1.85 indoors and from 0.50 to 0.97 outdoors. The human intake of PBDEs and DP through inhalation of PM₂.₅ accounted for 78% to 92% of the total intake. The cancer hazard quotients (HQs) of formaldehyde ranged from 4.5E − 05 to 2.1E − 04 indoors and from 1.9E − 05 to 6.2E − 05 outdoors. In general, the indoor air pollution in the five Hong Kong kindergartens might present adverse effects to children, although different schools showed distinct pollution levels, so indoor air quality might be improved through artificial measures. The data will be useful to developing a feasible management protocol for indoor environments. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
JournalEnvironment International
Early online dateSep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


black carbon
health risk
risk assessment
carbonyl compound
child health
World Health Organization
indoor air
air quality
flame retardant
indoor air pollution


Deng, W.-J., Zheng, H.-L., Tsui, A. K. Y., & Chen, X.-W. (2016). Measurement and health risk assessment of PM₂.₅, flame retardants, carbonyls and black carbon in indoor and outdoor air in kindergartens in Hong Kong. Environment International, 96, 65-74.


  • Indoor air pollution
  • PBDEs
  • Dechlorane plus
  • Particulate matter
  • Children health