Concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds in Indoor Air – A Review

S. K. Brown, M. R. Sim, M. J. Abramson, C. N. Gray

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A review is presented of investigations of volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations in indoor air of buildings of different classifications (dwellings, offices, schools, hospitals) and categories (established, new and complaint buildings). Measured concentrations obtained from the published literature and from research in progress overseas were pooled so that VOC concentration profiles could be derived for each building classification/category. Mean concentrations of individual compounds in established buildings were found to be generally below 50 μg/m3, with most below 5 μg/m3. Concentrations in new buildings were much greater, often by an order of magnitude or more, and appeared to arise from construction materials and building contents. The nature of these sources and approaches to reduce indoor air concentrations by limiting source VOC emissions is discussed. Total VOC (TVOC) concentrations were substantially higher than concentrations of any individual VOCs in all situations, reflecting the large number of compounds present, but interpretation of such measurements was limited by the lack of a common definition for TVOC relevant to occupant exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


  • Environmental assessment
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Organic compounds
  • Pollution control
  • Source reduction

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