Stephany Mason, PhD Eurofins Scientific – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), IAQ & Materials Testing

Air Date: 5-2-2014 | Episode: 325


This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Dr. Stephanie Mason to discuss IAQ and VOC’s. Dr. Mason is Vice President of VOC Materials Testing at Eurofins and is responsible for promotion and demonstration of expertise in chamber testing, product emissions, product organic content testing, and indoor air quality (IAQ)…

Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Dr. Stephanie Mason to discuss IAQ and VOC’s. Dr. Mason is Vice President of VOC Materials Testing at Eurofins and is responsible for promotion and demonstration of expertise in chamber testing, product emissions, product organic content testing, and indoor air quality (IAQ). Dr. Mason has extensive directly related experience with product emissions testing and product content testing for both US and international regulations, certifications, and testing schemes. She is well-versed on existing IAQ and product chemical safety regulations and methodologies. She is highly knowledgeable regarding the manufacturing processes of building materials (e.g. furniture, insulation, laminate, paint, wallboard, etc.), their uses, and potential chemical emissions and impact on the indoor environment, as well as potential chemical content health and environmental hazards. Dr. Mason has a B.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Columbia University.

Z-Man’s Blog:

VOCs

Stephany Mason, PhD and VP of VOC Materials Testing at Eurofins Scientific provided IAQradio listeners with valuable insight into VOCs.

Nuggets mined from today’s show:

  • VOC are organic compounds that contain carbon and emit chemicals in a vapor phase at room temperature (23°C-25°C).
  • Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide do not contain carbon.
  • There are 1,000s of VOCS. Not all VOCs are bad. VOCs are part of the natural environment and are necessary for human life.
  • Of the 1000s of known VOCs only 10s or 100sof VOCs are found within built environment. Not all chemicals indoors can be identified.
  • Finished products may contain many different chemicals. Some chemicals are more volatile than others. Chemical emission is driven by higher concentration moving to lower concentration or by evaporation.
  • New car smells are not as prominent as they used to be. “Sink effect” is when airborne VOC emissions are re-adsorbed into materials.
  • Both cardboard and pine wood used in packaging may be VOC sources.
  • Carpet was one of the earliest products assessed for VOCs. 4PC formerly found in carpet has been eliminated by CRIs Green Label Program
  • Many household cleaning products especially degreasers and citrus/pine based cleaners contain VOCs. When some VOCs react with ozone formaldehyde is produced.
  • Air fresheners don’t improve IAQ. There is no correlation between odor and levels of VOCs. Pleasant smelling air does not equate with good air quality and bad smelling air may not be harmful.
  • Semi volatile organic compounds have higher boiling points or lower vapor pressures (heavier) and take longer to move or are more difficult to move
  • Nonvolatile organic compounds have no driver and are typically attached to particles.
  • Some regulation of chemicals is political.
  • NIST library catalogs the spectra of chemicals.
  • Symptoms to exposure to VOCs are individually specific. Shorter term symptoms include: headache, eye irritation, respiratory irritation, itchy skin, irritating odors (nausea).
  • Long term effects of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, etc. can cause cancer and lead to neurological disorders.
  • Chamber testing mimics the indoors by using a large metal box in which a representatively sized sample is placed to be tested. The airflow, RH (50%), temperature (23° C) in the chamber is controlled. GC/MS and HPLC are utilized to take measurements and compare them to California’s EPA standard CDPH 01350.
  • Selling products in California may require VOC testing. The California Air Resources Board has standards for VOC emission. California regulations if they haven’t resulted in improvement they have reduced situation from getting worse.
  • The climate in Los Angeles, California is different than in Minneapolis, Minnesota while California VOC regulations wouldn’t hurt they may not be necessary nationally.
  • A group working on an ANSI standard for target bad actor chemicals.
  • There is some movement in California on revising Prop 65 to make it more meaningful.

Joe’s what ifs?

Do we know what effects the chemicals replacing formaldehyde will have? Does removal of formaldehyde from material shorten use life expectancy?

 

Dieterisms:

  • Inurement- to accustom to accept something undesirable.
  • “Air fresheners are like anesthetics, they may take the pain away but they don’t help the healing process.”
  • “Every product has a label that warns the product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer”. In California hotel rooms have signs warning that this was a smoking room 25 years ago and the room still contains carcinogens. On revising Prop 65 to make it more meaningful, “once in awhile look back on mistakes and say that it wasn’t a good idea”.

Today’s music: “Pollution” by Tom Lehrer

 

Z-man signing off

 

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