Volatile organic compounds in 169 energy-efficient dwellings in Switzerland

Exposure to elevated levels of certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in households has been linked to deleterious health effects. This study presents the first large-scale investigation of VOC levels in 169 energy-efficient dwellings in Switzerland. Through a combination of physical measurements and questionnaire surveys, we investigated the influence of diverse building characteristics on indoor VOCs. Among 74 detected compounds, carbonyls, alkanes, and alkenes were the most abundant. Median concentration levels of formaldehyde (14 mu g/m(3)), TVOC (212 mu g/m(3)), benzene (<0.1 mu g/m(3)), and toluene (22 mu g/m(3)) were below the upper exposure limits. Nonetheless, 90% and 50% of dwellings exceeded the chronic exposure limits for formaldehyde (9 mu g/m(3)) and TVOC (200 mu g/m(3)), respectively. There was a strong positive correlation among VOCs that likely originated from common sources. Dwellings built between 1950s and 1990s, and especially, those with attached garages had higher TVOC concentrations. Interior thermal retrofit of dwellings and absence of mechanical ventilation system were associated with elevated levels of formaldehyde, aromatics, and alkanes. Overall, energy-renovated homes had higher levels of certain VOCs compared with newly built homes. The results suggest that energy efficiency measures in dwellings should be accompanied by actions to mitigate VOC exposures as to avoid adverse health outcomes.


Published in:
Indoor Air
Year:
Apr 13 2020
ISSN:
0905-6947
1600-0668
Keywords:
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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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Note: The status of this file is: Anyone


 Record created 2020-04-26, last modified 2020-04-29

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