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A system for labeling building materials according to their impact on the indoor air quality has been developed and introduced in Denmark. The system takes into account the emission decay of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from new building materials according to their impact on comfort and health. The principle is to determine the time value, t(Cm), required to reach the relevant indoor air value, Cm, of a given VOC (presently, based on odor and mucus membrane irritation thresholds), in a standard room. t(Cm) is a measure of the duration in which a new building material may cause increased exposure and enhance the probability of increased indoor air quality problems, unless special precautions are made.
The emission profiles of carpets, sealants, and waterbome paints have been measured for about eight months. The time values of potentially odorous and irritative VOCs have been determined. In addition, some of the time values have been obtained from the emission decay constants based on short-term testing. The results show that the use of mathematical modeling of the emission profile may be associated with certain pitfalls. The principles laid down in the Danish Indoor Climate Labeling system may also be used for singular VOCs of which a specific health endpoint is known.
building materials, emission testing, comfort evaluation, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), labeling
Senior research scientist, National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen Ø,
Senior researcher, Danish Building Research Institute,