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Analytical Lab Services

VOC Emissions Testing

VOC Emission Testing Services

Berkeley Analytical (BkA) specializes in VOC emission testing of building products and VOC emission testing of furniture using small-and large-scale environmental chambers. If you’re new to this topic, see below for a brief explanation of VOC emission testing. BkA is committed to meeting customers’ needs and can support your manufacturing operations with VOC testing programs for product development, quality control, supply chain management, trouble-shooting such as odor investigations, and compliance testing for green building rating systems and sustainability standards.

Our VOC emission testing to standards such as CDPH Standard Method V1.2, widely known as CA Section 01350, and to ANSI/BIFMA M7.1, provide the foundation for manufacturers’ self-declared claims and third-party certified claims for low-emitting building products and office furnishings. These claims are used to earn credits in LEED v4/4.1, WELL, CHPS, Green Globes and other building rating systems. Green building codes such as CALGreen, ASHRAE Standard 189.1, and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) also require the same standards and claims to define acceptable products for new construction and renovation. Additionally, BkA provides a variety of other VOC testing services. Please contact us to discuss your requirements and objectives for VOC emissions testing.

Testing Building Products for VOC Emissions

CDPH Standard Method V1.2, which superseded CDPH Standard Method V1.1, in 2017(CA Section 01350) is the most widely used standard in North America for VOC testing and for evaluating VOC emissions from building products including flooring, suspended ceilings, insulation, wall panels, paints and coatings, and wall coverings. This standard is referenced in USGBC LEED v4/4.1 and in many other green building rating systems and green construction codes. The standard requires:

  • Conditioning of test specimens for 10 days at 23±2°C and 50±10% RH immediately followed by a 96-hour small-scale chamber test at 23±1°C and 50±5% RH
  • Air sample collection for VOCs and aldehydes at 24, 48 and 96 hr during chamber test
  • Identification and quantitative analysis of VOCs emitted to air by the product with emphasis on VOCs of concern
  • Modeling of VOC analysis results to predict concentrations in standard building scenarios (office, school classroom and optional single-family residence)
  • Assessment of modeled concentrations relative to chronic health guidelines

BkA has been involved with the CDPH Standard Method from its inception as CA Section 01350 and can answer your questions about this standard, as well as guide you through the requirements of other programs referencing the standard.

BkA also serves international building product manufacturers. For the EU, products are tested following the ISO 16000-9 and ISO 16000-11 standards and the newer EN 16516 standard to demonstrate compliance with the French Decree on the Labeling of Construction Products for Their Emissions of Volatile Pollutants. This labeling law applies to all interior paints & coatings, wallcoverings, ceiling panels, hard surface and resilient flooring, insulation, doors and windows sold in France. BkA also is an approved laboratory for many categories of products in the Blue Angel ecolabel program operated by the federal government of Germany. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is tested for VOC emissions by the CAN/ULC-S774 standard for compliance with national and provincial building code regulations in Canada.

Testing Furniture for VOC Emissions

The ANSI/BIFMA Standard Method M7.1 is the predominant North American method used for testing commercial furniture for VOC emissions. This standard is referenced in LEED v4/4.1 for office furniture and is incorporated into CDPH Standard Method V1.2 for the testing of classroom and office furnishings. Our furniture testing services using M7.1 support the ANSI/BIFMA e3 sustainability standard and BIFMA’s level™ sustainability certification program. Seating, workstation components (work surface, storage, and panels), tables, and other furniture items are tested using our mid-scale chambers. Components that can be represented by small samples are tested in small-scale chambers using the scaling approach. Conformity assessment is conducted relative to ANSI/BIFMA X7.1; ANSI/BIFMA e3 Sections 7.6.1, 7.6.2, & 7.6.3; and the guidelines in CDPH Standard Method V1.2.

BkA is highly engaged with the furniture industry. We serve on BIFMA’s FES Subcommittee and helped develop the subcommittee's recent BIFMA Pods-2020 guide for freestanding privacy booths, are official observers on the BIFMA e3 furniture sustainability standard, and participated with Syracuse University on BIFMA sponsored research in support of Standard M7.1. We can answer your technical questions and are well positioned to address all of your needs for furniture VOC emissions testing.

Other VOC Emission Testing Services

BkA works with manufacturers to create specialized VOC emission testing programs for quality control (QC) and other objectives, such as:

  • Investigating odor problems
  • Proposition 65 exposure studies, e.g., styrene emissions from fiberglass and other plastics
  • Developing new products to be compliant with VOC emission standards
  • Evaluating effects of changes in manufacturing processes
  • Assuring supply chain is meeting specifications
  • QC testing of production lots and shipments from suppliers
  • Screening of product families to identify worst-case, representative samples for compliance testing
  • Measuring manufacturing viability among factories and product lots

BkA’s VOC emission testing services for manufacturing QC are used to support self-declared and certified product claims under standards, such as CDPH Standard Method V1.2, and certification schemes such as SCS Global Services Indoor Advantage programs.

What is VOC Emission Testing?

If you’re new to this topic, you may be wondering what is involved in VOC emission testing. In brief, many building products used indoors contain organic chemicals that can vaporize and cause contamination of indoor air. As a result, building occupants are subjected to inhalation exposures. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in products as residual solvents, chemical reaction or dissociation products, manufacturing contaminants, and purposefully introduced additives. Emission testing measures the rate of the release of VOCs to indoor air. VOCs of potential concern include:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Chronic systemic toxins such as toluene, styrene, phenol, and naphthalene
  • Carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens, and CA Proposition 65
  • Sensory irritants
  • Odorants

VOCs contained in dry products diffuse through the material and partition to air at the material surface. The rate of release to air, termed emission rate, is determined by the concentration of the VOC in the material, the rate of its diffusion in the material, and its partitioning coefficient between the material and air. Each chemical and material combination has a characteristic release rate.

VOC emission testing isolates the product source in an environmental chamber. The chamber is maintained at controlled temperature and relative humidity and is operated with a constant inlet flow of clean air. In engineering terms, this is called a constantly stirred tank reactor. As VOCs are emitted, the concentrations of VOCs in chamber air increase. After steady state is achieved, samples of chamber air are collected and analyzed. A steady-state VOC emission rate at a given time point (typically in micrograms of VOC per square meter of material per hour) is calculated as the product of the chamber air concentration and the inlet air flow rate divided by the area of the emitting product surface.  Emission rates are used to estimate concentrations in buildings, which then can be compared to inhalation exposure guidelines.

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