SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1996

A Method for Determination of the Sink Effect of VOCs from Building Materials


It is important to know both the emission and the sorption behavior of materials when constructing or renovating buildings in order to avoid material related indoor climate problems. With a general, low-cost test method, the sink effect of materials under normal conditions can be incorporated as information in an indoor climate labeling system for materials. Reconditioned samples of waterborne paint applied on tinned steel plates and carpet were placed in small test chambers at a controlled air exchange rate and mean air velocity. The sorption behavior of the materials was studied, while ambient air from a recently renovated office environment was passed through the chambers. The desorption of VOCs from the test samples was analyzed chemically and by sensory evaluation. The results showed a correlation between the chamber concentration in the desorption phase expressed as the percentage of the concentration in the office air and the gas chromatographic retention times of the VOCs (using a semipolar column). The results are used to propose a general test method for assessing the sink effects of materials used in the indoor environment. A mixture of pollutants with affinities to indoor surfaces is proposed for adsorption testing under controlled environmental conditions. A mathematical model of the distribution of emitted VOCs between indoor air and sinks is proposed. It is possible to calculate the impact of the sinks on the indoor air quality by comparison with indoor relevant thresholds for odor and mucous membrane irritation.

Author Information

Kjaer, UD
Danish Building Research Institute, Hørsholm, Denmark
Nielsen, PA
Danish Building Research Institute, Hørsholm, Denmark
Vejrup, KV
National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
Wolkoff, P
National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
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Developed by Committee: D22
Pages: 123–133
DOI: 10.1520/STP15616S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5340-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2030-3