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Material emissions – Consumer goods

Consumer productsHazardous chemicals released from consumer goods

The quality of indoor air is affected both by the materials used in constructing living spaces and by the everyday products used within them, all of which can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) linked to adverse health effects.

As regulations on chemical emissions from construction products have become commonplace, attention has turned to potentially hazardous chemicals released from consumer goods, including:

What Markes can offer

Draft ISO methods for SVOCs

Monitoring releases of chemicals from consumer goods has historically focused on the more volatile compounds. However, two new draft ISO methods are now being developed that aim to facilitate the expansion of testing into semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs).


ISO 16000-31: Indoor air – Measurement of flame retardants and plasticizers based on organophosphorus compounds – Phosphoric acid ester

ISO 16000-33: Indoor air – Determination of phthalates with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).


Formaldehyde monitoring

Formaldehyde is too reactive to monitor by TD–GC–MS, and must instead be sampled onto DNPH cartridges, which generate a stable derivative. These cartridges are then analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). More on formaldehyde monitoring.


As a result of public concern and legislatory activities, there is currently a need for analysts to detect and identify a wide variety of volatile chemicals released from consumer goods.


Thermal desorption is compatible with three common sampling techniques for assessing hazardous emissions from consumer goods.

  • Small chambers: The material is placed inside the chamber, a flow of gas is applied and the chemicals released from the material are pumped onto sorbent tubes. These tubes are then analysed by TD–GC–MS, allowing an emission profile to be determined. Small-chamber sampling methods are well-established for testing building materials used indoors, and for testing of materials used in vehicle interior. Typically these methods take days or months for each sample.
  • Microchambers (for example, Markes’ Micro-Chamber/Thermal Extractor): These are micro-scale chamber devices that facilitate rapid screening of chemicals released from materials. The sample is simply sealed inside the chamber, a flow of gas applied, with the chemicals emitted being collected onto sorbent tubes. The ability to raise the temperature of the chamber up to 250°C allows emissions of SVOCs to be ‘forced’, allowing the determination of emissions in worst-case senarios.
  • Direct desorption is very simple, and involves simply placing a small (milligram) quantity of the sample in an empty TD sorbent tube, which is then heated to release the vapours. This is commonly used for testing materials used in vehicle interiors.

In each case, analysis is carried out by TD–GC–MS (for example, using Markes’ UNITY-xr or TD100-xr thermal desorbers). For direct desorption, sampling is carried out within the thermal desorber itself, and no separate sampling apparatus is needed.


Further information

For a more comprehensive introduction to the application of thermal desorption to construction product testing, contact us for a copy of our TD Applications Guide on residual volatiles and material emissions testing.

Markes International Ltd
Gwaun Elai Medi-Science Campus
Tel: +44 (0)1443 230935
Markes International GmbH
Bieberer Straße 1-7
63065 Offenbach am Main
Tel: +49 (0)69 6681089-10
USA (West)
Markes International, Inc.
2355 Gold Meadow Way
Gold River, Sacramento
California 95670
Tel: +1 866-483-5684 (toll-free)
Markes Instruments (Shanghai) Co., Ltd
Unit 1002, Building 1
No.418, Guilin Road
Shanghai 200233
P.R. China
Tel: +86 21 5465 1216
Part of Schauenburg International

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