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ECA Report no 18 - Evaluation of VOC emissions from building products

Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997 ISBN 92-828-0384-8 © ECSC-EC-EAEC, Brussels – Luxembourg, 1997

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This report outlines the principles of a general evaluation procedure for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials with respect to their potential effects on health and comfort. Using available knowledge, the principles have been applied to a simplified case, i.e. a procedure for the evaluation of VOC emissions from solid flooring materials. The procedure IS intended for the classification and/or labeling of these materials and may serve for both voluntary and regulatory purposes.

The procedure includes

(i) the selection and handling of appropriate test specimens;

(ii) the determination of emission factors of individual VOCs and of TOVC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) using small test chamber measurements;

(iii) modeling of indoor relevant VOC concentrations;

(iv) their toxicological evaluation and

(v) measurements of sensory irritation and odour or perceived air quality of the emissions.

An overall scheme of how to combine the different elements of the procedure and rules how to use the information obtained for labelling of building materials have been established.

This booklet contains an updated version of Chapter 5 of Report Nr. 18 (EUR 17334 EN), published in 1997 in the series of reports issued by the European Collaborative Action 'Indoor Air Quality & Its Impact on Many (ECA-IAQ). Chapter 5 deals with sensory evaluation of emissions from flooring materials. The reason for updating this chapter (and not the whole report) is the following. A working group of the ECA-IAQ has undertaken the remarkable work of collating and evaluating the many pieces of information existing on the "sensory evaluation of indoor air quality" and a report with this title (m20 in the series) is in press. This work has brought to light enough information to induce the Steering Committee of the ECA-IAQ to update Chapter 5 in Report 18.

The chapter has been entirely rewritten in a more logical way and the main innovations concern the explicit description of criteria and methods for sensory evaluations of air quality and the introduction of a section "quality assurance".

The opportunity of this publication has been used also to correct a few errors and inconsistencies encountered in other parts of Report No. 18. These corrections are reported on the pages following chapter 5. A larger number of errors and inconsistencies have been occurring in Appendix 6 to Report No 18. It has therefore been prefered to reprint the entire appendix.

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