National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in office environments are generally too low to cause sensory irritation in the eyes and airways on the basis of estimated thresholds for sensory irritation. Furthermore, effects in the lungs, e.g. inflammatory effects, have not been substantiated at indoor relevant concentrations. Some VOCs, including formaldehyde, in combination may under certain environmental and occupational conditions result in reported sensory irritation. The odour thresholds of several VOCs are low enough to influence the perceived air quality that result in a number of acute effects from reported sensory irritation in eyes and airways and deterioration of performance. The odour perception (air quality) depends on a number of factors that may influence the odour impact. There is neither clear indication that office dust particles may cause sensory effects, even not particles spiked with glucans, aldehydes or phthalates, nor lung effects; some inflammatory effects may be observed among asthmatics. Ozone-initiated terpene reaction products may be of concern in ozone-enriched environments (≥0.1mg/m(3)) and elevated limonene concentrations, partly due to the production of formaldehyde. Ambient particles may cause cardio-pulmonary effects, especially in susceptible people (e.g. elderly and sick people); even, short-term effects, e.g. from traffic emission and candle smoke may possibly have modulating and delayed effects on the heart, but otherwise adverse effects in the airways and lung functions have not been observed. Secondary organic aerosols generated in indoor ozone-initiated terpene reactions appear not to cause adverse effects in the airways; rather the gaseous products are relevant. Combined exposure to particles and ozone may evoke effects in subgroups of asthmatics. Based on an analysis of thresholds for odour and sensory irritation selected compounds are recommended for measurements to assess the indoor air quality and to minimize reports of irritation symptoms, deteriorated performance, and cardiovascular and pulmonary effects.
PMID: 22954455 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]