AgBB: Health-related Evaluation of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VVOC, VOC and SVOC) from Building Products
Building products may be a major source of indoor air pollution by volatile organic compounds (VOC).
To establish the fundamentals for a uniform and reproducible health assessment of building products in Germany, the Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products (Ausschuss zur gesundheitlichen Bewertung von Bauprodukten - AgBB) has developed criteria for testing and subsequently an evaluation scheme for VOC emissions from building products suitable for indoor use. The evaluation scheme sets quality standards relevant to health for the production of building products to be used indoors and fosters the development of particularly low-emission products.
The procedure for product testing, its background and the evaluation may be found in detail at the AgBB evaluation scheme 2018*.
Further article pages include the latest version of the AgBB scheme with additional information, previous versions of the evaluation scheme, results of several expert discussions and current publications.
* At its meeting on 20 February 2008, the AgBB decided that when revised versions of the AgBB scheme and updated LCI lists are published, the relevant previous version will continue to apply for one more year. This was done in order to give the manufacturers concerned sufficient time to adapt their products to the new requirements.
LCI (Lowest Concentration of Interest) values are auxiliary parameters used in health-related evaluation of emissions of individual substances from building products. LCI values are exclusively determined by the AgBB’s LCI Working Group and updated at regular intervals. To avoid misinterpretation, they are published only as part of the complete text of the AgBB evaluation scheme. Updates are identified by the year of their publication. Currently discussed or agreed changes of LCI values and new substances under consideration are given in the list of prospective LCI value changes to your information before the next update. For substances not yet included in the list of LCI values, it is possible to apply for LCI values to be established by submitting available data to the AgBB (LCI-application form). The same applies to well-founded requests for modification of an existing LCI value.
The Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products
The AgBB Committee was founded in 1997 by the Working Group on Environment-related Health Protection (Länderarbeitsgruppe "Umweltbezogener Gesundheitsschutz", LAUG) of the Permanent Working Group of the Highest State Health Authorities (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Obersten Landesgesundheitsbehörden, AOLG) of the Federal States (Länder).
The following authorities are represented in AgBB:
- Health Institutes of the Federal States (Ländergesundheitsbehörden)
- German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt)
- German Institute for Building Technology (Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik, DIBt)
- Conference of the State Ministers and Senators for Town Building, Building and Housing Affairs (Konferenz der für Städtebau, Bau- und Wohnungswesen zuständigen Minister und Senatoren der Länder, ARGEBAU)
- Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, BAM)
- Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR)
- Coordinating Committee 03 for Hygiene, Health and the Environment’ of the Building and Civil Engineering Standards Committee within DIN (Koordinierungsausschuss 03 für Hygiene, Gesundheit und Umweltschutz des Normenausschusses Bauwesen im DIN (DIN-KOA 03)).
Section II 1.3 “Indoor hygiene, health-related environmental impacts” at the German Environment Agency acts as secretariat for AgBB.
AgBB Workshops and Conferences
The AgBB scheme was discussed and improved in Germany in several workshops (in 2001, 2002 and 2004, documents in German) with all relevant stakeholders.
In 2007, a two-day international conference on "Construction Products and Indoor Air Quality" took place in Berlin within the framework of the German EU presidency. Over 100 participants from 16 countries discussed their experience with indoor air quality, various emission-based labelling systems and product optimisation strategies, and emphasised the need for European harmonisation as regards to emissions from building products.
Since the introduction of the health-related evaluation scheme for VOC emissions from building products the AgBB has intended to assess also the emissions of odours. During the past years, the methodology for the measurement of odours has been developed, and now also standardised in the ISO 16000-28. A 1st workshop on sensory testing of building products took place on the 5th of December 2011 at the Deutsche Institut für Bautechnik (DIBt). During this workshop all relevant stakeholders (manufacturers, measurement institutes, regulators, and scientists) discussed about the existing experience in the measurement and evaluation of odours from building products in order to create a common platform for a pilot phase. The course of the discussion and the presentations can be downloaded from this page (in German).
As a result of this expert meeting, it was decided to start a pilot phase in cooperation with the manufacturers to check to what extent the assessment of odours from building products can be made. Two round robin tests with various laboratories were carried out on behalf of the German Environment Agency. The pilot phase for the introduction of the odour testing from construction products ended in summer 2015. The results were presented and discussed in a symposium on 1.-2.10.2015 at the German Environment Agency in Dessau (in German). The AgBB deliberated upon the results of the pilot phase and introduced the sensory testing of construction product emissions as a new criterion in the updated version of the evaluation scheme in August 2018. However, the application of the 'sensory testing' criterion is not binding but constitutes a voluntary instrument.