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Diffusion-controlled Reference Material for VOC Emissions Testing:International Inter-laboratory Study



Cynthia H. Reed, Zhe Liu, Steve Cox, Dennis D. Leber, Daniel V. Samarov, John Little


The measurement of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from building products and materials by manufacturers and testing laboratories, and the use of the test results for labeling programs, continues to expand. One issue that hinders chamber product testing from reaching its full potential is the lack of a reference material to validate test chamber performance. To meet this need, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Virginia Tech (VT) have developed a prototype reference material that emits a single VOC similar to the emissions of a diffusion controlled building product source with a dynamic emissions profile. The prototype material has undergone extensive testing at NIST and a pilot inter-laboratory study (ILS) with four laboratories. The next development step was to evaluate the prototype source in multiple-sized chambers of 14 laboratories in seven countries. Each laboratory was provided duplicate specimens and a test protocol. Study results identified a significant issue with the need to store the source at a low temperature until tested and possible discrepancies in large chambers. For laboratories using a small chamber and meeting all the test method criteria, the results showed the material to behave consistently between different laboratories, with the relative standard deviation ranging from 5 % to 10 %.
Journal of Air and Waste Management Association


building materials, chamber testing, emssions, indoor air quality, reference material, volatile organic compounds


Reed, C. , Liu, Z. , Cox, S. , Leber, D. , Samarov, D. and Little, J. (2014), Diffusion-controlled Reference Material for VOC Emissions Testing:International Inter-laboratory Study, Journal of Air and Waste Management Association, [online], (Accessed March 4, 2024)
Created May 12, 2014, Updated February 19, 2017