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Characteristics of Exposure to Particles due to Incense Burning inside Temples in Kanpur, India

Category: Indoor Air Quality

Volume: 17 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 608-615
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.04.0146
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Anubha Goel 1,4, Roshan Wathore2, Tirthankar Chakraborty3, Manish Agrawal1

  • 1 Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur-208016, India
  • 2 Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
  • 3 Environmental Engineering and Management Programme, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur - 208016, India
  • 4 Center for Environmental Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Kanpur - 208016, India


PM generated in temples of Kanpur city determined for the first time.
Critical levels of particulate concentration observed indoors.
Mass concentration found to be up to 20 times the standard.
Particles polydispersed and occur most in accumulation mode.


Incense burning in temples is a common and popular ritual in India and other Asian countries. This study aims at assessing the quantity and size segregated distribution of particulate matter in temples of Kanpur city, India. Active air sampling was performed in three temples using the Micro Orifice Uniform Deposit Impactor (MOUDI). PM10 mass concentrations as high as 2184 µg m–3 were recorded inside the temples. Mass concentration values for all samples exceeded the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 100 µg m–3. Particle counts were high, and more than 99% of the numbers of particles generated were PM2.5. Particle coagulation is an active mechanism leading to formation of polydispersed particles. Most abundant particles occur in the accumulation mode (dp < 1 µm). Ventilation conditions and amount of incense burned are major factors affecting particle size distribution. Exposure through inhalation, to critically high concentrations of fine particulate matter generated via incense smoke especially for worshippers who frequent the temple and temple workers, raises health concerns. The results clearly indicate that incense smoke is a major source of particulate matter in the temple microenvironment and their chemical characteristics need further examination.


Indoor air quality Incense burning MMAD Most abundant PM size

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