Module 2 – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

The second module of the CCIAQB’s Guide for Indoor Air Quality5-2 gives building operators and managers information about volatile organic compounds. VOCs are chemicals that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and are gases at room temperature.

A “source-pathway-receptor” model is introduced for assessment of potential VOC sources, of ventilation and of cleaning. A process is given for deciding whether sampling would help in checking VOC controls.

Sampling is described for use various activities, including: building commissioning; best-management practices (including assessment and control during renovation or construction activities); regulatory compliance; and investigating occupant complaints.
Guidance is given on when and where to sample for VOCs, and how the types of VOCs and the building environment can affect strategies. A flowchart shows how to work from goals to choosing a strategy. Example goals include complying with regulations, and fixing problems. Sampling methods are described for real-time monitoring, as well as active and passive sampling. Suggestions are offered for choosing a consultant, and on laboratory accreditation.

There are many practical lists (with references and links), including: best-management practices; occupational health and safety regulations; commonly-encountered VOCs and sources; sample guidelines for managing VOCs; complaint patterns and sampling; effects of building age on sampling; effects of site factors on VOC sampling and analysis; and accreditations commonly used by Canadian labs.

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