Impacts of air cleaners on indoor air quality in residences impacted by wood smoke

Document Type

Journal Article


American Chemical Society


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


Centre for Ecosystem Management


Wheeler A.J., Gibson M.D., MacNeill M., Ward T.J., Wallace L.A., Kuchta J., Seaboyer M., Dabek-Zlotorzynska E., Guernsey J.R., & Stieb D.M. (2014). Impacts of air cleaners on indoor air quality in residences impacted by wood smoke. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(20), 12157-12163. Available here


Residential wood combustion is an important source of ambient air pollution, accounting for over 25% of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in Canada. In addition to these ambient contributions, wood smoke pollutants can enter the indoor environment directly when loading or stoking stoves, resulting in a high potential for human exposure. A study of the effectiveness of air cleaners at reducing wood smoke-associated PM2.5 of indoor and outdoor origin was conducted in 31 homes during winter 2009-10. Day 1, the residents' wood burning appliance operated as usual with no air cleaner. Days 2 and 3, the wood burning appliance was not operational and the air cleaner was randomly chosen to operate in "filtration" or "placebo filtration" mode. When the air cleaner was operating, total indoor PM2.5 levels were significantly lower than on placebo filtration days (p = 0.0001) resulting in a median reduction of 52%. There was also a reduction in the median PM2.5 infiltration factor from 0.56 to 0.26 between these 2 days, suggesting the air cleaner was responsible for increased PM2.5 deposition on filtration days. Our findings suggest that the use of an air cleaner reduces exposure to indoor PM2.5 resulting from both indoor and ambient wood smoke sources.



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