Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

The legal limits on emissions of and exposure to VOCs are different depending on the location and region. They are determined by international and national authorities, such as the European Union and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA.

In the UK, there are presently no guidelines for indoor air quality guidelines regarding individual volatile organic compounds.

In their absence, the recently revised Department for Education Guidance BB101: Ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality (DfE, 2018) advocated for the use of the WHO (2010) Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) guidelines.

Monitoring Indoor Air for VOCs

Some Public Locations Present Exceptional Levels of Specific VOCs

Since 1990, the UK has seen a decrease of more than 50% in emissions of particulates and volatile organic compounds other than methane (NMVOCs). This good news is largely thanks to a significant reduction in vehicle emissions, a trend also observed in many other countries.

Simultaneously, detailed research reveals that the exposure of people to particulates and VOCs has a direct impact on their health. Definitive thresholds have been published for VOC concentrations indoors, such as those provided by Public Health England.1

“Formaldehyde is a major air contaminant indoors, especially in newly furbished rooms, typically outgassing from fiberboard and plastics for a few months after installation. Fairly inexpensive monitors engaging metal oxide semi conductivity-based sensors provide robust responsively.”2 

Clean Air Strategy 2019

In January 2019, the UK government launched a Clean Air Strategy that detailed how to address the health and safety and environmental issues surrounding air pollution. The strategy included how they will tackle all sources of air pollution, making the air healthier to breathe while protecting nature and boosting the economy.

The strategy sets out how the government will;

  • Monitor the progress
  • Protect the nation’s health
  • Protect the environment
  • Reduce emissions from transport, homes, farming and industry
  • Secure clean growth and innovation 

VOC Monitoring Indoors

Considering the diverse range of VOCs in air and their toxicity, it could seem preferable to individually monitor the more ubiquitous and hazardous of them.

Despite the recent revolution in technology, individual analysis of VOCs still depends on gas chromatographic separation of volatiles, followed by their detection. The cost and service requirements of such VOC analyzers remain far too high for widespread use.

Yet, some specific VOC detectors and sensors are commercially available.

“Benzene arises primarily from external sources but is also found in paints. Selective monitors are available which engage miniaturized GC-PID (gas chromatography-photoionization detection).”3

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

​​​​​​​Image Credit: Ion Science

Photoionization Detection Sensors for Monitoring VOCs Indoors 

10.0 eV VOC Gas Sensor

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

Image Credit: Ion Science

Range: 0 to >100 ppm. Minimum detection limit: 5 ppb. 10.0 eV lamp. 

The 10.0 eV VOC gas sensor - MiniPID 2 is utilized for improved selectivity of compounds with lower ionization energies. 

11.7 eV VOC Gas Sensor

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

Image Credit: Ion Science

Range: 0 to >100 ppm. Minimum detection limit: 100 ppb. 11.7 eV lamp. 

The 11.7 eV VOC gas sensor lamp expands the range of detectable compounds, exclusively available via ION Science. 

High Sensitivity VOC Gas Sensor

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

Image Credit: Ion Science

Range: 0 to 3 ppm. Minimum detection limit: 0.5 ppb. 10.6 eV lamp. 

The high sensitivity VOC gas sensor possesses the highest sensitivity VOC gas sensor. It is ideal for sub-PPB level detection. 

PPB VOC Gas Sensor

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

Image Credit: Ion Science

Range: 0 to >40 ppm. Minimum detection limit: 1 ppb. 10.6 eV lamp. 

The PPB VOC gas sensor - MiniPID 2 is optimized to offer an exceedingly low background which enables optimum low-end sensitivity. 

PPM VOC Gas Sensor

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment

Image Credit: Ion Science

Range: 0 to 4000 ppm. Minimum detection limit: 100 ppb. 10.6 eV lamp. 

The PPM VOC gas sensor - MiniPID 2 was developed for detecting VOCs across the widest dynamic range on the market without jeopardizing performance. 

Sensor Development Kit (SDK)

Monitoring Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in an Indoor Environment​​​​​​​

Image Credit: Ion Science

Sensor Development Kit (SDK) for incorporating the MiniPID 2 photoionization sensor. 

References 

  1. Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for selected Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the UK, Public Health England, London, UK, 2019.
  2. L Spinelle, M.Gerboles. G.Kok, T.Sauerwald, ‘Review of low-cost sensors for the ambient air monitoring of benzene and other volatile organic compounds’, J.R.C. Technical Report, E.U., 2015
  3. W. Haag ad F. Dean Continuous Benzene-Specific Monitoring Using the Titan

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Ion Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Ion Science.

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