Last changed: 12/01/11
On 8 March 2010 the Federal Environment Agency together with the the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, the Hermann Rietschel Institute of the Technical University of Berlin and the RWTH Aachen University presented the results of the research project “Sensory Evaluation of Building Products” (see programme of the event PDF / 135 KB).
After very interesting introductory lectures on the physiology of smelling and on experience with outdoor odour assessment the scientists presented the results of their measurements of emissions of odours and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from building products such as floor coverings, adhesives and fillers. In the project the scientists developed a measurement method and evaluation standards suitable for a sensory (olfactory) assessment of construction products. It was highlighted that an odour assessment of construction products in the context of energy-saving building is very significant for the well-being of the occupants. Furthermore the European and national activities on this topic were outlined.
Methods for the measurement and evaluation of odour emissions are needed in different places: in manufacturers’ internal control, for the Blue Angel ecolabel and in the approval of construction products. On completion of the project, the Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products (AgBB evaluation scheme) will give advice on and support the introduction of parameters for odour assessment into practice.
Guided tours through the odour laboratory of the Hermann Rietschel Institute completed this many-sided event.
In a previous research project titled Environmental and Health Provisions for Building Products - Identification and evaluation of VOC emissions and odour exposure, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing and the Hermann Rietschel Institute of the Technical University of Berlin tested a total of 50 building products. Scientists recorded emissions from sealants, lacquers, wall paints, wood based products, synthetic resin plasters, flooring compounds, adhesives, and wall coverings, and then evaluated them according to a scheme developed by the Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products (AgBB evaluation scheme).
AgBB evaluation scheme. One area of focus lay on the development of a method of odour measurement. Although the AgBB scheme provides for it, it has yet not been applied owing to the lack of a recognised measurement procedure.The objective of the project was to assess the emissions behaviour of building products and to test and extend national and international test methods in VOC measurement in order to conduct a health-related appraisal of building products according to the
The measurement procedure and other test results were met with enthusiasm at their presentation during a meeting of experts held on 21 September 2006 in Berlin. The presentation slides are located on the Hermann Rietschel Institute homepage and are available for download.
The results make one thing clear: building products now bear fewer health risks than they did a few years ago. However, there is room for improvement, for 14 products (mainly sealants and synthetic resin plasters) did not comply with AgBB requirements.
The actual emission behaviour of various product groups is now known and can be adequately described. There is also a suitable measurement method for sensory assessment. In a follow-up project the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) would like to test the measurement method on a select product group so as to establish parameters for odour assessment.
Builders and property developers can already rely on the voluntary labelling system of the Blue Angel for low-emissions building products. The label is awarded to products tested in certified laboratories as per the AgBB evaluation scheme, but the standards for emissions levels are high.
Results of the project flowed into a comprehensive brochure which contains information for anyone planning to build or redecorate and goes into detail about what to watch out for when buying materials.