Airborne emissions from indoor materials and furnishings have the potential to release harmful or odorous volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) into indoor spaces. In fact, most individual products may release up to hundreds of individual VOCs such as toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
One of the most common approaches to minimizing the effect of these emissions is to use low emitting products or those that will contribute minimal pollution to the air. This technique, called “source control,” is an effective construction and interior design strategy for ensuring healthy indoor environments.
However, in many cases, products are not used alone, but in combination with other materials; for example, paint on wallboard, fabric glued on foam cushioned furniture, adhesives on sub flooring and beneath carpet or hard surfaces, laminates on cabinets made of particleboard and adhered with glues, and roofing systems.
The emissions from these products in application may vary from what is found when they are simply tested alone. Sometimes emissions may be reduced and yet, in some situations, new chemicals can be released resulting from interactions among the products. Many professionals want to know how the products will behave in real applications, because it more realistically measures what will happen in the building once installed.
Air Quality Sciences, Inc. has developed a series of new techniques that allow product assemblies to be tested in controlled environmental chambers. Measurements can be made to evaluate various options for installation and construction so that the full building impact can be measured. This is beneficial to professionals who care about bottom line performance and whether or not an installed material is safe.
According to Dr. Marilyn Black, Chief Scientist of AQS, “Product manufacturers also want to know the impact of installation on their product’s performance. In many cases, this leads them to develop preferred installation techniques and warranty definitions.”