Skip to main content

Human Ammonia Emission Rates under Various Indoor Environmental Conditions

Literature Reference
Peer Reviewed Literature

Mengze Li, Charles J. Weschler, Gabriel Bekö, Pawel Wargocki, Gregor Lucic, and Jonathan Williams

Presented at

Environmental Science & Technology

April 1st, 2020

Ammonia (NH3) is typically present at higher concentrations in indoor air (∼10–70 ppb) than in outdoor air (∼50 ppt to 5 ppb). It is the dominant neutralizer of acidic species in indoor environments, strongly influencing the partitioning of gaseous acidic and basic species to aerosols, surface films, and bulk water. We have measured NH3 emissions from humans in an environmentally controlled chamber. A series of experiments, each with four volunteers, quantified NH3 emissions as a function of temperature (25.1–32.6 °C), clothing (long-sleeved shirts/pants or T-shirts/shorts), age (teenagers, adults, and seniors), relative humidity (low or high), and ozone (<2 ppb or ∼35 ppb). Higher temperature and more skin exposure (T-shirts/shorts) significantly increased emission rates. For adults and seniors (long clothing), NH3 emissions are estimated to be 0.4 mg h–1 person–1 at 25 °C, 0.8 mg h–1 person–1 at 27 °C, and 1.4 mg h–1 person–1 at 29 °C, based on the temperature relationship observed in this study. Human NH3 emissions are sufficient to neutralize the acidifying impacts of human CO2 emissions. Results from this study can be used to more accurately model indoor and inner-city outdoor NH3 concentrations and associated chemistry.