Air quality cloud
Air quality cloud

A new system to establish health-protective limits for the emission of hazardous chemicals from products used in our homes, schools and offices has been developed by the EU-LCI Working Group.  

Cranfield University scientists, as members of the EU-LCI Working Group, have contributed to the development of a new procedure which is intended to be adopted and applied across Europe.  

It has established limits for the acceptable level of emissions of hazardous substances from building products for use by regulators and manufacturers to protect occupants against possible risks to health. A new web site is now available that explains and reports the recommended limit values.

Concerns about the impact of poor indoor air quality on health have grown in recent years. Of particular concern is a range of substances known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. These are released from a wide range of building materials, furnishings and consumer products as well as other sources such as smoking of tobacco and growth of mold in damp rooms.

The need to evaluate products to ensure that they are suitable for modern indoor environments and do not emit chemicals that can be hazardous to health is considered a high priority by the European Commission and national authorities. It is also a critical factor when assessing the sustainability of products.

Cranfield’s Dr Derrick Crump, Reader in Environment and Health said: “We all spend large amounts of time inside and the quality of the air we breathe is critical to enable us to work productively and ensure that our health is not compromised. With the advancements in construction, to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, there has been an increase in airtight construction, and a consequent need to reduce the sources of indoor pollution.”

Across Europe there are a number of differing schemes to assess product emissions, but these vary from country to country. It is intended that the new method will provide a consistent European approach, including the basis of labelling products in the future to indicate the likely impact on a buildings’ air quality and any associated potential risk to health.

Already, authorities in Belgium and Germany have agreed to adopt these limits to protect their population against risks to health.

Notes for editors

EU-LCI Working Group Membership:

Paul Harrison (chair of working group), Visiting Professor and Derrick Crump, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK
The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), Brussels, Belgium
French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), Maison-Alfort, France
University of Milan, Dept. of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Milan, Italy
Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin, Germany
VITO, Mol, Belgium
Belgian Federal Public Services, DG5 Environment , Brussels, Belgium
Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik, Berlin, Germany
BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany
Deutsche Bauchemie e.V., Frankfurt, Germany
PTCH Consultancy, Market Harborough, United Kingdom
Landesamt für soziale Dienste (LasD), Kiel, Germany
Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden
FiSIAQ, Espoo, Finland
Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Freiburg, Germany
Environment Agency, Vienna, Austria
Danish Technological Institute, Taastrup, Denmark
National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.