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Critical evaluation of approaches in setting indoor air quality guidelines and reference values

: Salthammer, T.


Chemosphere 82 (2011), Nr.11, S.1507-1517
ISSN: 0045-6535
ISSN: 0366-7111
Fraunhofer WKI ()
indoor air; evaluation; guideline; reference value; statistic; toxicology

The importance of good indoor air quality for the health of the individual was recognized as long as 150 years ago and that period also saw recommendations, which essentially related to questions of ventilation and carbon dioxide. The first evaluation standards for organic and inorganic substances were laid down in the 1970s, often on an empirical basis. It was in the mid-1980s of the 20th century that a shift occurred towards systematically evaluating the results of indoor air measurements, carrying out representative environmental surveys and deriving guideline values and reference values on the basis of toxicological, epidemiological and statistical criteria. Generally speaking the indoor environment is an area which can only be assessed with difficulty since its occupants are in most cases exposed to mixtures of substances and there can be great local and temporal variations in the substance spectrum. Data are available today for a large number of substances and this makes it possible, with the aid of statistically derived reference values and toxicologically based guideline values, to make useful recommendations regarding good indoor air quality. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to evaluate reactive compounds and reaction products. What is disadvantageous, however, is the fact that different guideline values may be published for one and the same substance, whose justification and area of application are often not transparent. A guideline or reference value can only be regarded as rational when necessary and when a strategy for its verification is available.