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The micro-environmental impact of volatile organic compound emissions from large-scale assemblies of people in a confined space

Dutta, Tanushree, Kim, Ki-Hyun, Uchimiya, Minori, Kumar, Pawan, Das, Subhasish, Bhattacharya, Satya Sundar, Szulejko, Jan
Environmental Research 2016 v.151 pp. 304-312
acetone, air, air quality, emissions, food waste, humans, isoprene, people, pollutants, recreation, spatial variation, sports, temporal variation, toluene, volatile organic compounds, waste disposal
Large-scale assemblies of people in a confined space can exert significant impacts on the local air chemistry due to human emissions of volatile organics. Variations of air-quality in such small scale can be studied by quantifying fingerprint volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as acetone, toluene, and isoprene produced during concerts, movie screenings, and sport events (like the Olympics and the World Cup). This review summarizes the extent of VOC accumulation resulting from a large population in a confined area or in a small open area during sporting and other recreational activities. Apart from VOCs emitted directly from human bodies (e.g., perspiration and exhaled breath), those released indirectly from other related sources (e.g., smoking, waste disposal, discharge of food-waste, and use of personal-care products) are also discussed. Although direct and indirect emissions of VOCs from human may constitute <1% of the global atmospheric VOCs budget, unique spatiotemporal variations in VOCs species within a confined space can have unforeseen impacts on the local atmosphere to lead to acute human exposure to harmful pollutants.