Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Complaints in office buildings about symptoms such as irritation of the mucous membranes and of the skin, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and general malaise are often attributed to inadequate indoor air quality and, in particular, to indoor air pollution by organic compounds. There is, however, only limited evidence for organic indoor air pollution as a cause of such symptoms and many other factors have been suspected or shown to be related to these symptoms. This paper reviews briefly the various classes of organic indoor air pollutants and the ranges of concentrations which have been detected indoors, and compares them to levels at which acute effects of organic compounds which may lead to the above described symptoms have been observed. For volatile organic compounds (the only class of organic indoor pollutants for which fairly representative data on indoor air concentrations are available), results show that levels causing concern only occur occasionally, particularly in new buildings. Field studies partly confirm this conclusion and partly suggest relationships between VOC and symptoms at concentrations below suspected effect levels. Large variations of individual sensitivities are discussed as one potential explanation for these controversial findings.

Additional information

Authors: KNÖPPEL H, JRC Ispra (IT);DE BORTOLI M, JRC Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Symposium-Qualità dell'Aria Interna e Salute, Perugia (IT), Oct. 24-26, 1991
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 36466 ORA
Record Number: 199111550 / Last updated on: 1994-12-02
Original language: en
Available languages: en