The Transformation of Outdoor Ammonium Nitrate Aerosols in the Indoor Environment

Publication Type

Journal Article



Recent studies associate particulate air pollution with adverse health effects; however, the exposure to indoor particles of outdoor origin is not well characterized, particularly for individual chemical species. We conducted a field study in an unoccupied, single-story residence in Clovis, California to provide data and analyses to address issues important for assessing exposure. We used real-time particle monitors both outdoors and indoors to quantify PM-2.5 nitrate, sulfate, and carbon. The results show that measured indoor ammonium nitrate concentrations were significantly lower than would be expected based solely on penetration and deposition losses. The additional reduction can be attributed to the transformation indoors of ammonium nitrate into ammonia and nitric acid gases, which are subsequently lost by deposition and sorption to indoor surfaces. A mass balance model that accounts for the kinetics of ammonium nitrate evaporation was able to reproduce measured indoor ammonium nitrate and nitric acid concentrations, resulting in a fitted value of the deposition velocity for nitric acid of 0.56 cm s-1. The results indicate that indoor exposure to outdoor ammonium nitrate in Central Valley of California are small, and suggest that exposure assessments based on total particle mass measured outdoors may obscure the actual causal relationships for indoor exposure to particles of outdoor origin.


Atmospheric Environment



Year of Publication



Research Areas