Emission of organic substances from indoor surface materials

  • Gene Tucker W
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A wide variety of surface materials in buildings can release organic compounds. Examples include building materials, furnishings, maintenance materials, clothing, and paper products. These sources contribute substantially to the hundreds of organic compounds that have been measured in indoor air. Their emissions have been directly connected to complaints of odors or hyperreactivity and are presumed to contribute to the problems in many 'sick buildings' where the cause complaints is uncertain. Significant progress has been made in the past decade in developing procedures for measuring emissions from such materials, in controlled experiments where factors affecting emission rates can be determined and quantified. Emissions data are still limited but are being accumulated gradually by research groups in Europe and North America. It is clear from the recent data gathered in research and modeling studies that one of the most effective ways to limit indoor concentrations of organic compounds is to limit the content of volatile compounds in materials that are used in buildings. Limiting the original residual content of volatile compounds in the materials, or conditioning such materials prior to use in buildings, or (perhaps) conditioning such materials in place before occupancy of a new or renovated building, are most likely to prevent excessive indoor concentrations. If emissions testing and product certification procedures are available and there is sufficient market demand for low-emitting materials caused by indoor air quality concerns, significant reductions of indoor concentrations of vapor-phase organic compounds could be achieved within the next decade. © 1991.

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  • W. Gene Tucker

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