Indoor air chemistry: terpene reaction products and airway effects

Tidsskriftartikel - 2020


Reactive chemistry is ubiquitous indoors with a wealth of complex oxidation reactions; some of these are initiated by both homogeneous and heterogeneous reaction of ozone with unsaturated organic compounds and subsequent the hydroxyl radical, either in the gas-phase or on reactive surfaces. One major focus has been the reaction of common and abundant terpene-based fragrances in indoor air emitted from many wood-based materials, a variety of consumer products, and citrus fruits and flowers. Inhalation of the terpenes themselves are generally not considered a health concern (both acute and long-term) due to their low indoor air concentrations; however, their gas- and surface reactions with ozone and the hydroxyl radical produce a host of products, both gaseous, i. a. formaldehyde, and ultrafine particles formed by condensation/nucleation processes. These reaction products may be of health concern. Human cell bioassays with key reaction products from ozone-initiated terpene reactions have shown some inflammatory reactions, but results are difficult to interpret for human exposure and risk assessment. Acute effects like sensory irritation in eyes and airways are unlikely or present at very low intensity in real life conditions based on rodent and human exposure studies and known thresholds for sensory irritation in eyes and airways and derived human reference values for airflow limitation and pulmonary irritation. Some fragrances and their ozone-initiated reaction products may possess anti-inflammatory properties. However, long-term effects of the reaction products as ultrafine particles are poorly explored. Material and product surfaces with high ozone deposition velocities may significantly impact the perceived air quality by altered emissions from both homogeneous and heterogeneous surface reactions.


Wolkoff P. Indoor air chemistry: terpene reaction products and airway effects. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 2020;225:113439.
doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.113439

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