Investigation of volatile organic compounds in office buildings in Bangkok, Thailand: Concentrations, sources, and occupant symptoms

Investigation of volatile organic compounds in office buildings in Bangkok, Thailand: Concentrations, sources, and occupant symptoms


English :
To conserve energy, office buildings with air-conditioning systems in Thailand are operated with a tight thermal envelope. This leads to low fresh-air ventilation rates and is thought to be partly responsible for the sick building syndrome symptoms reported by occupants. The objectives of this study are to measure concentrations and to determine sources of 13 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in office buildings with air-conditioning systems in the business area of Bangkok. Indoor and outdoor air samples from 17 buildings were collected on Tenax-TA? sorbent tubes and analyzed for individual VOCs by thermal desorption-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (TD-GC/MS). Building ventilation was measured with a constant injection technique using hexafluorobenzene as a tracer gas. The results show that the VOC concentrations varied significantly among the studied buildings. The two most dominant VOCs were toluene and limonene with average concentrations of 110 and 60.5 ?g m-3, respectively. A Wilcoxon sum rank test indicated that the indoor concentrations of aromatic compounds and limonene were statistically higher than outdoor concentrations at the 0.05 level, while the indoor concentrations of chlorinated compounds were not. Indoor emission factors of toluene and limonene were found to be highest with the average values of 80.9 and 18.9 ?g m-2 h-1, respectively. Principal component analysis was applied to the emission factors of 13 VOCs, producing three components based on source similarities. Furthermore, a questionnaire survey investigation and field measurements of building air exchange pointed to indoor air complaints related to inadequate ventilation. ? 2011 Elsevier Ltd.