This study monitors the presence of 88 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (semi-VOCs) at the gas phase of seven indoor settings in a school in the city of Tarragona, Spain, and five outdoor locations around the city. The VOCs and semi-VOCs monitored were solvents (∑Solvents), aldehydes (∑Aldehydes), emerging organic compounds (∑EOCs), and other VOCs and semi-VOCs (∑Others). Passive sampling campaigns were performed using Carbopack X tubes followed by thermal desorption coupled to gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS). Overall, 70 of the target compounds included in the method were determined in the indoor air samples analysed, and 42 VOCs and semi-VOCs in the outdoor air samples. Our results showed that solvents were ubiquitous throughout the school at concentrations ranging from 272 μg m−3 to 423 μg m−3 and representing 68%–83% of total target compounds (∑Total). The values of ∑Total in 2021 were three times as high as those observed at the same indoor settings in 2019, with solvents experiencing the greatest increase. A plausible explanation for these observations is the implementation of anti-COVID-19 measures in the indoor settings, such as the intensification of cleaning activities and the use of hydroalcoholic gels as personal hygiene. The ∑Total values observed in the indoor settings evaluated were twenty times higher than those found outdoors. ∑Solvents were the most representative compounds found indoors (74% of the ∑Total). The concentrations of VOCs and semi-VOCs observed in the outdoors were strictly related to combustion processes from automobile traffic and industrial activities, with ∑Others contributing 58%, ∑Solvents 31%, and ∑Aldehydes 11% of the ∑Total. EOCs, on the other hand, were not detected in any outdoor sample.

Fuente: Science of The Total Environment
Available online 2 May 2022, 155611