Breeam formaldehyde and VOC indoor air quality testing in Cambridge

Recently Sysco Environmental Limited was requested to carry out an assessment of indoor air quality at a three-storey office building in Cambridge. The indoor air quality was assessed according to the BREEAM assessment scheme, which has well defined limits to levels of contamination. It was our job to measure the concentration of formaldehyde in the indoor environment, measure the concentration of total volatile organic compounds in the indoor environment and evaluate the site compliance against the BREEAM indoor air quality requirements. The site has fully implemented an previously prepared indoor air quality plan so was fully prepared for the assessment.

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The results of our indoor air quality measurements revealed that the site was compliant with the requirements set out in the official document “HEA-02 Indoor Air quality”. However, the concentration of formaldehyde and total volatile organic compounds was below the maximum permissible concentration limits. Our BREEAM air quality plan assessment revealed that no further measures needed to be taken to reduce concentration of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds across the development.

With regards to building itself, the site was situated in the inner city Cambridge area. The building consisted of two open plan offices on the ground floor and single open plan offices on subsequent floors. The building itself was completed several months prior to our assessment. Initial evaluation showed that there were a number of non-compliances related to indoor air quality testing. The building was occupied prior to the IAQ test and one of the rooms had been partly furnished in violation of the requirements.

Indoor Air Quality Assessment

Volatile Organic compounds and formaldehyde samples were collected by personal samplers fitted with TENAX tubes and formaldehyde sampling tubes. Samples of Volatile organic compounds were analysed by Thermal Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and the samples of formaldehyde were analysed by High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

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The requirements for indoor air quality are set out in the BREEAM HEA -2 document, which includes clearly defined maximum limits. Under these criteria, the indoor air quality was satisfactory and safe for inhabitation. In other words, the indoor air quality concentration of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds meets the requirements set out in the HEA-02 air quality document. As a result, no further measures needed to be taken to reduce the concentration of indoor air contaminants.

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