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Changes in the concentration of volatile organic compounds and aldehydes in newly constructed houses over time

Suzuki, N., Nakaoka, H., Nakayama, Y., Takaya, K., Tsumura, K., Hanazato, M., Tanaka, S., Matsushita, K., Iwayama, R., Mori, C.
International journal of environmental science and technology 2020 v.17 no.1 pp. 333-342
acetone, air quality, air sampling, construction materials, ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, furniture, guidelines, human health, styrene, surveys, toluene, volatile organic compounds, xylene, Japan
Nowadays, people spend most of their time indoors; thus, the indoor environment greatly affects human health because of exposure to chemicals indoors. Thus, in collaboration with Japanese house builders, a list of building materials having low volatile organic compound concentrations was compiled herein. The air-quality samples from seven newly built houses (seven bedrooms and seven living rooms) were collected and tested for 64 volatile organic compounds and two aldehydes. Air samples were obtained from the house with no furniture or household goods and were sampled 1 week after construction and repeated after a month. Furthermore, the test results with a 2009 survey of indoor air quality in newly constructed houses were compared. One week after construction, the xylene, styrene, toluene, formaldehyde, and ethylbenzene concentrations were less than half the standard guideline values set in Japan. The main substances detected in the samples were 2-butanone, acetone, ethanol, ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, and undecane. The statistical significance of the changes in substance concentrations over time was examined via Wilcoxon signed-rank test. One month after construction, the concentrations of all chemical substances had undergone a statistically significant reduction, except butyl acetate. The median of total volatile organic compounds in living rooms was 291 µg/m³, and the maximum was 354 µg/m³; both were under Japan’s provisional total volatile organic compound target of 400 µg/m³. These values were significantly lower than those recorded by other researchers. This study concludes that using experimentally identified low volatile organic compound materials effectively improves the indoor air quality.