Tracking VOCs and formaldehyde concentrations in building products

  • Henrique Mendonca

    Can I track Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) and formaldehyde concentrations for building materials using eToolLCD?

    VOC and formaldehyde quantities can´t be directly tracked in eToolLCD because they are not Impact indicators. eToolLCD will have in its database for example the impact value for Human Toxicity Potential, Human Toxicity Cancer and Non-Cancer which is a combined result depending on the building product composition. Life Cycle Inventory data will inform industry average indicators and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) will inform product specific impact data.

    eToolLCD user will be able to track specific product performance with EPDs and analyse for example Human Toxicity Potential expressed in terms of damage to human health by the index mDALY, and not specific concentration of Formaldehyde measured in mg/litre or ppm.

    This is an interesting topic actually I thought I’d quickly comment on. EN15978 does have a “B1” phase which is meant to track impacts associated with the products in use such as:
    – Leaching into ground water supplies
    – Emissions to air such as VOCs
    – Carbonation of concrete
    The child standards that were required to properly define the impacts associated with B1 were not fully developed when EN15978 was first released by I think are now maturing. I did a fair bit of research on this a few years ago but can’t put my finger on it. What it told me is that as Environmental Product Declarations become more popular (which is happening quickly) and the measurement / definition of B1 impacts matures instead of stamping products with “acceptable” levels of VOCs we’ll know exactly how much they will emit (documented as an impact in the EPD). We might still be 5 years of this but that’s the best endgame I think.

    In the mean time perhaps there is room for a feature in eToolLCD to tag certain materials as having some kind of environmental status. It’s a feature we’d need to work through with our users to understand better, so for those that are interested in this please reach out to


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