Sysco Environment Limited was recently asked to carry out an assessment of indoor air quality for the purpose of the BREEAM assessment scheme. The overall objectives of our assessment were to measure the concentration of formaldehyde in the indoor environment and to measure the total volatile organic compounds in the indoor environment. In addition, we needed to evaluate the site compliance against the BREEAM indoor air quality requirements.
The results of our indoor air quality analysis showed that the site was compliant with requirements set out in the document entitled “HEA Indoor Air Quality”. The concentration of formaldehyde and total organic compounds is below the maximum permissible concentration limits. As a result, no further measures would need to be taken to reduce the concentration of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds across the development.
Air Quality Tests
In order to test that the indoor air quality was safe for workers in future we needed to conduct detailed air quality tests. As part of our analysis we measured the levels of volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde in the surrounding air. In order to do so we used targeted equipment, measuring volatile organic compounds by active sampling on Tenax TA sorbent, thermal desorption and gas chromatography using MS or MS-FID and BS EN ISO standard. Thermal desorption is a method where we use heat to increase the volatility of contaminants so that they can be removed from a solid matrix making them easier to measure.
The minimum requirements for indoor air quality, and for premises to be considered safe are set out in the BREAAM air quality plan entitled “Indoor Air Quality”. The maximum limits mentioned as part of the BREEAM document specify that Formaldehyde concentration in habitable rooms should be less or equal to 100 μg/m3. In addition, Total volatile organic compound concentration in habitable rooms should be less or equal to 300 μg over 8 hours. Next we needed to analyze the results, which we achieved through the use of Thermal Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and the samples of Formaldehyde were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography.
Breeam test results
After analyzing the tests of Volatile Organic Compounds and Formaldehyde in the surrounding air, we found that the building was safe. A full-scale HEA-02 didn’t need to be implemented, and no measures needed to be taken to reduce the concentration of indoor air quality contaminants that came from Volatile Organic Compounds and Formaldehyde. To ensure that the indoor air quality remains high in future, general ventilation of the building and a pre-occupancy flush out would be advisable but not essential.