Human exposure to ozone in school and office indoor environments

Heidi Salonen*, Tunga Salthammer, Lidia Morawska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)
302 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Although it is recognized that ozone causes acute and chronic health effects and that even trace amounts of ozone are potentially deleterious to human health, information about global and local exposures to ozone in different indoor environments is limited. To synthesize the existing knowledge, this review analyzes the magnitude of and the trends in global and local exposure to ozone in schools and offices and the factors controlling the exposures. Methods: In conducting the literature review, Web of Science, SCOPUS, Google Scholar, and PubMed were searched using 38 search terms and their combinations to identify manuscripts, reports, and directives published between 1973 and 2018. The search was then extended to the reference lists of relevant articles. Results: The calculated median concentration of ozone both in school (8.50 μg/m3) and office (9.04 μg/m3) settings was well below the WHO guideline value of 100 μg/m3 as a maximum 8 h mean concentration. However, a large range of average concentrations of ozone was reported, from 0.8–114 μg/m3 and from 0 to 96.8 μg/m3 for school and office environments, respectively, indicating situations where the WHO values are exceeded. Outdoor ozone penetrating into the indoor environment is the main source of indoor ozone, with median I/O ratios of 0.21 and 0.29 in school and office environments, respectively. The absence of major indoor ozone sources and ozone sinks, including gas-phase reactions and deposition, are the reasons for lower indoor than outdoor ozone concentrations. However, there are indoor sources of ozone that are of significance in certain indoor environments, including printers, photocopiers, and many other devices and appliances designed for indoor use (e.g., air cleaners), that release ozone either intentionally or unintentionally. Due to significantly elevated outdoor ozone concentrations during summer, summer indoor concentrations are typically elevated. In addition, the age of a building and various housing aspects (carpeting, air conditioning, window fans, and window openings) have been significantly associated with indoor ozone levels. Conclusions: The existing means for reducing ozone and ozone reaction products in school and office settings are as follows: 1) reduce penetration of outdoor ozone indoors by filtering ozone from the supply air; 2) limit the use of printers, photocopiers, and other devices and appliances that emit ozone indoors; 3) limit gas-phase reactions by limiting the use of materials and products (e.g. cleaning chemicals) the emissions of which react with ozone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-514
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Air pollution
  • Indoor sources
  • Office environments
  • Outdoor sources
  • Ozone
  • School environments


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