Baden Württemberg

ÖGD - Öffentlicher Gesundheitsdienst

ÖGD - Öffentlicher Gesundheitsdienst

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Home Materials

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Dachstuhl © Joe Gough -

In Europe houses are usually built for a life-time, and any material that has once been included into the material structure of the building is difficult and costly to remove. However, there are a variety of building materials, home products or structural factors that may potentially lead to health effects. For radon, asbestos and lead the health consequences have been identified many years ago. However, these pollutants are still present in many European dwellings. At present the concern is more related towards volatile organic compounds (VOC) particularly emitted from carpets, paints or furniture. Further compounds of interest are semi-volatile organic compound like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), plasticisers (e.g. phthalates) or particulate matter, contained by and released from building and home products. In many cases, these compounds affect the quality of indoor air, and are inhaled by the residents.

At present there are considerations in various European countries, based on the Construction Products Directive (Council Directive 89/106/EEC), how health aspects can be incorporated into the registration of construction products. Fundamental work herein has been done under the leadership of the European Collaborative Action "Indoor Air Quality and its Impact on Man" (ECA-IAQ), published in 1997. In Germany, the "Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products” (Ausschuss zur gesundheitlichen Bewertung von Bauprodukten - AgBB)  at the Federal Environmental Agency has developed an evaluation scheme on this basis for VOC emissions from building products suitable for indoor usage. This scheme is currently used for the registration of carpets. In France, a similar scheme has been developed by the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire de l'environnement et du travail - Afsset) for the evaluation of VOC and formaldehyde from construction products. In Finland, construction products can be assigned to different classes on the basis of their VOC-emissions. Denmark and Norway developed an indoor climate label for evaluation of construction products and furnishings on the basis of their emissions.

In Germany, the Worker's Compensation Board of the Building Industry (Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft) provides an information system to hazardous substances (GISBAU), concerning the components of construction materials and preventive measures while handling with them (in German only). Information on the choice of building products is available in a pamphlet on the website of the „Action Program Environment and Health” from the Federal State of North Rhine - Westphalia (APUG NRW – in German only).


Further Information

European Collaborative Action / Indoor air quality & its impact on man (ECA-IAQ): Report No 18  

AgBB: Health-related Evaluation of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC and SVOCs) from Building Products 
    AgBB evaluation sheme 2010

Assessment of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)  

Avis de l'Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire de l'Environnement et du Travail  

Introduction to the French concept  –  AFSSET protocol (PDF; 582 KB)  

Emission Classification of Building Materials   

The Danish Indoor Climate Label DICL 

GISBAU (Gefahrstoff-Informationssystem der Berufsgenossenschaft Bau) 

Gefahrstoff Asbest - BBSR (Das Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung) -Berichte KOMPAKT 2/2010 

Broschüre des APUG NRW: "Bauprodukte gezielt auswählen – eine Entscheidungshilfe“

 Update 04/2011


Baden-Württemberg State Health Office
  Dr. Bernhard Link
Phone +49 (0) 711 904-39650