Survey of volatile organic compounds found in indoor and outdoor air samples from Japan.
Indoor air quality is currently a growing concern, mainly due to the incidence of sick building syndrome and building related illness. To better understand indoor air quality in Japan, both indoor and outdoor air samples were collected from 50 residences in Iwate, Yamanashi, Shiga, Hyogo, Kochi and Fukuoka Prefectures. More than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were analyzed by thermal desorption-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method. The most abundant class of compounds present in the indoor air samples were identified (i.e. alkanes, alkylbenzenes and terpenes). For 30% of the indoor air samples, the sum of each VOC exceeded the current provisional guideline value for total VOC (TVOC, 400 microg/m3). The major component of these samples included linear and branched-chain alkanes (possibly derived from fossil fuels), 1,4-dichlorobenzene (a moth repellent), alpha-pinene (emission from woody building materials) and limonene (probably derived from aroma products). As an unexpected result, one residence was polluted with an extremely high concentration of 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (720 microg/m3), suggesting accidental leakage from a household appliance such as a refrigerator. The results presented in this paper are important in establishing the Japanese target compound list for TVOC analysis, as well as defining the current status of indoor air quality in Japan.