Andrew Persily: Indoor Air Quality
Part 1: IAQ Criteria for Building Products
Part 2: How To Measure IAQ Parameters
IAQ Criteria for Building Products
August 2011 - IAQ
In terms of selecting indoor materials like carpets, paints and cleaning chemicals, what should be the criteria with reference to IAQ?
There are some criteria in existence right now for selecting building materials and other products based on their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 contains some requirements, as does California 1350 issued by the California Department of Public Health.
These criteria are based on emissions tests conducted in environmental chambers. However, there are some technical issues concerning the associated tests methods. For example, these tests are conducted at a specified temperature and humidity, which might be different than what is in your building. Also, there are questions about whether they adequately consider the aging of the material over time. Efforts are underway to improve these measurements but they are helping reduce the emissions in current materials and products.
There's a good document that EPA put out many years ago called Building Air Quality that has a lot of information on managing indoor sources. It was published in 1991, but it's still quite relevant and useful.
Another good resource is the Indoor Air Quality Guide that ASHRAE published last year. It has a good section on material emission testing and labeling programs, and is very helpful in understanding how to use them.