Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Indoor Air




School of Science / Centre for Ecosystem Management




Van Ryswyk, K., Wallace, L., Fugler, D., MacNeill, M., Héroux, M. È., Gibson, M. D., ... Wheeler, A. J. (2015). Estimation of bias with the single‐zone assumption in measurement of residential air exchange using the perfluorocarbon tracer gas method. Indoor Air, 25(6), 610-619. Available here


Residential air exchange rates (AERs) are vital in understanding the temporal and spatial drivers of indoor air quality (IAQ). Several methods to quantify AERs have been used in IAQ research, often with the assumption that the home is a single, well‐mixed air zone. Since 2005, Health Canada has conducted IAQ studies across Canada in which AERs were measured using the perfluorocarbon tracer (PFT) gas method. Emitters and detectors of a single PFT gas were placed on the main floor to estimate a single‐zone AER (AER1z). In three of these studies, a second set of emitters and detectors were deployed in the basement or second floor in approximately 10% of homes for a two‐zone AER estimate (AER2z). In total, 287 daily pairs of AER2z and AER1z estimates were made from 35 homes across three cities. In 87% of the cases, AER2z was higher than AER1z. Overall, the AER1z estimates underestimated AER2z by approximately 16% (IQR: 5–32%). This underestimate occurred in all cities and seasons and varied in magnitude seasonally, between homes, and daily, indicating that when measuring residential air exchange using a single PFT gas, the assumption of a single well‐mixed air zone very likely results in an under prediction of the AER.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.