MAS provides both static and dynamic emissions testing services to determine the type and concentrations of chemical compounds potentially off-gassed from finished products and raw materials into the indoor environment.
Static test protocols typically involve a headspace measurement of emissions yielding qualitative results derived from short duration “flash” emissions. Dynamic test methods are similar but involve placing a sample in an inert chamber and monitoring off-gassed emissions over a set period of time (accounting for indoor ventilation rates typical of today’s building environments). Advantages of dynamic or chamber test methods are that they allow for predictions of air concentrations in the future by establishing decay curves for the materials tested
Chamber emission testing
was originally developed by EPA to assess the potential off-gassing of hazardous compounds from building and interior finish goods. Since its development, emissions testing has been adopted by a number of municipalities, trade organizations and regulatory agencies worldwide. Of note: This type of testing is now required for certain construction and interior finish materials (manufactured and used) in the State of California1
. This type of testing is also necessary to achieve user credits under the USGBC LEED program promoting Green Building and is also required under many International Standards in Europe and Asia.
The drive behind emission testing is to limit the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into indoor environments. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Formaldehyde
is one of the best known VOCs (constantly making news and under increasing state and federal regulation. It is often associated with glues and resins used in composite/engineered woods and certain finishes associated with a wide variety of construction materials, furniture and interior finishes.
Outside mandated emission testing, on a much broader basis, there is a heightened consumer interest and demand for “green” products as well as concern for indoor air quality (IAQ) levels in homes and commercial buildings. Today, the majority of the emissions testing is conducted as a means of delineating a product or group of products in the marketplace as “green”.
Within industry trade organizations there are several groups including the Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI), the Business and Intuitional Furniture Manufacture’s Association (BIFMA) and the Adhesives and Sealant Council (ASC) which have established specific emissions standards for their memberships.