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Developing a Diffusive Reference Material for VOC Emissions Testing: Pilot Interlaboratory Study



Cynthia H. Reed, Zhe Liu, Jennifer Benning, Steven Cox, Daniel V. Samarov, Dennis D. Leber, Al Hodgson, Stephany Mason, Doyun Won, John C. Little


In order to improve the reliability of product emissions testing and labeling, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Virginia Tech (VT) have created a program to develop reference materials with independently known emission rates. To date, a diffusive reference material and associated mass transfer model have been created and are undergoing extensive characterization to establish the material s reference emission properties. As part of this process, a pilot interlaboratory study (ILS) was conducted with four different laboratories. The objectives of this ILS included assessing the consistency of the production process of the reference source as well as the ability of the model to independently predict chamber emission rates in different laboratories. Results show the prototype material to be a relatively stable, homogeneous source that produced consistent emissions both within a production batch and between production batches. A comparison of emission rates between laboratories showed relative standard deviations as low as 9 %, which are significantly lower than most previous product emissions interlaboratory studies. The pilot ILS also demonstrated the value of independently determining the reference source s emission rate using the mass transfer model. An issue with the material surface area exposed during the test was identified through a discrepancy between the model prediction and measured results. Once the chamber test was adjusted to expose both sides of the reference material, the measured concentrations and model predictions for emissions from both sides of the sample agreed within 3 % at a sample time of 48 h. The success of this pilot ILS is a key step toward being able to provide a reference material for independent chamber testing validation.
Building and Environment


volatile organic compounds, emissions, indoor air, reference material


Reed, C. , Liu, Z. , Benning, J. , Cox, S. , Samarov, D. , Leber, D. , Hodgson, A. , Mason, S. , Won, D. and Little, J. (2011), Developing a Diffusive Reference Material for VOC Emissions Testing: Pilot Interlaboratory Study, Building and Environment, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created February 25, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017