Pollutants from materials used indoors
Most people in the developed world spend an estimated 70–90% of their time indoors or in vehicles. Due to this, regulators and scientists are increasingly concerned about the impact of poor indoor air quality (or ‘sick building syndrome’) on human health.
Indoor pollutants primarily arise from sources such as construction materials, furnishings (including car trim), cleaning products, fuels, and general consumer goods. Activities such as cooking and smoking also play a significant role, with particulates being the main source of concern. In addition, the release of VOCs from consumer products and construction materials is a focus of current legislatory activity.
The presence of mould in damp buildings can also result in poor air quality, although here the main health problem lies with the resulting mould spores rather than VOCs themselves. Nevertheless, VOCs are the cause of the unpleasant odours associated with damp or mould-infested buildings, and one such chemical, methyl benzoate, is typically used as an indicator for mould contamination.
What Markes can offer
Pumped (active) or diffusive (passive) sampling on to sorbent tubes using Markes’ UNITY-xr or TD100-xr provides the flexibility to monitor indoor air pollution over different volatility ranges of VOCs and time periods. For example, pumped sampling on to TD sorbent tubes is ideal for looking at a wide range of VOCs over a short time period (minutes to hours), in compliance with ISO 16000-6 (Annex D).
Diffusive sampling is also of value for indoor air monitoring for specific analytes over longer periods of time, or for monitoring personal exposure.
Thermal desorption is also increasingly popular for testing materials used indoors for emissions of hazardous compounds.
- For an example of the use of Markes’ Air Server and ULTRA-UNITY thermal desorber to identify secondary organic aerosols resulting from use indoor use of a surface detergent, see: S. Rossignol et al., The use of a housecleaning product in an indoor environment leading to oxygenated polar compounds and SOA formation: Gas and particulate phase chemical characterization, Atmospheric Environment, 2013, 75: 196–205.
- For an example of the use of Markes’ Micro-Chamber/Thermal Extractor and TD-100 automated thermal desorber for the detection of volatile compounds emitted from materials used indoors, see: V.M. Brown and D.R. Crump, An investigation into the performance of a multi-sorbent sampling tube for the measurement of VVOC and VOC emissions from products used indoors, Analytical Methods, 2013, 5: 2746–2756.
- For an example of the use of pumped-tube sampling and Markes’ UNITY thermal desorber to detect raised levels of VOCs in office air, see: M. Ongwandee, R. Moonrita, S. Panyametheekul, C. Tangbanluekal and G. Morrison, Investigation of volatile organic compounds in office buildings in Bangkok, Thailand: Concentrations, sources, and occupant symptoms, Building and Environment, 2011, 46: 1512–1522.