How to get Certified
1. Manufacturers submit a material sample or a finished product for testing to MAS (dependent upon the specific test method or reference standard being used) along with a chain of custody.
2. Once received, the sample is prepared and loaded into one of four standard chamber sizes – small (53 liter), intermediate (1 cubic meter), mid (6.5 cubic meters) or large (28 cubic meters).
3. Conditioned air is then passed through the chamber on a continuous basis at a set rate while chemicals emitted from the core and surface areas of the sample are off-gassed into the air. At set intervals air samples are drawn from the chamber and analyzed for VOCs to determine compound type and concentration.
4. Emission factors for each VOC of interest are calculated for the tested sample at each sampling interval. Airborne concentrations are then calculated for the sample based on emitting surface area and a specified ventilation rate typical of the environment where the material/product would be utilized. This data is then compared to a recognized standard/regulatory limit. Extrapolations, material bracketing and scaling are possible for extended time periods/varying conditions, broader product line certification and composite testing.
Emissions Test Methods & Standards
Understanding Emissions Testing
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 + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) and the Adhesives and Sealant Council (ASC) which have established specific emissions standards for their memberships.