Remember the term “sick building syndrome” or SBS? SBS occurs when building occupants experience acute health effects due to time spent in a building. Many times, these negative health effects go undiagnosed because they dissipate when the occupant leaves the building, but they reoccur when the occupant returns.
Symptoms can include difficulty with concentration, dizziness, nausea, headache, fatigue, dry cough, eye, nose & throat irritation, dry itchy skin, and sensitivity to odors.
Some of the most common causes of SBS are:
- Biological contaminants – bacteria, mold, pollen, and viruses
- Poor ventilation
- Contaminants from indoor sources – adhesives, sealants, carpeting, manufactured wood products, furniture, cleaning agents, copy machines
- Contaminants from outdoor sources – air pollution
Since 1984 when the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 30% of buildings worldwide were subject to indoor air quality (IAQ) issues, the building industry has come a long way.
To specifically address chemical contaminants from indoor sources, building owners, architects, engineers, building products manufacturers, internationally recognized test labs and green building rating systems have implemented certifications and processes to ensure that specified building products are independently certified to possess low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s); VOC emissions from building materials are a primary source for SBS.
A critical component for building mechanical systems, such as HVAC and plumbing, is mechanical insulation for piping, ductwork, and equipment. Most mechanical insulation manufacturers now offer 3rd-party certification that their products comply with low-VOC emission requirements of green building rating systems such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®).
GREENGUARD Gold Insulation Certification
One of the most recognized VOC emission certification programs is UL Environment’s GREENGUARD Gold Certification. GREENGUARD Gold is a rigorous VOC emission certification because it addresses the following criteria:
- Health-based certification for schools and healthcare facilities
- Limits emissions of over 360 VOC’s and chemicals
- Complies with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Specification 01350, v1.2
- Meets LEED EQ Credit – Low-Emitting Materials
Essentially, insulation manufacturers must work with UL Environment to have their products tested for VOC emissions compliance on an annual basis in order to renew their GREENGUARD Gold product certifications and have GREENGUARD Gold insulation.
Building owners and consulting mechanical engineers can rest assured that when looking for GREENGUARD Gold insulation, Aeroflex USA’s Aerocel® brand of EPDM closed-cell elastomeric insulation and most accessories are GREENGUARD Gold Certified for low chemical emissions.
To learn more about GREENGUARD Gold insulation and the GREENGUARD Gold insulation requirements, please visit https://www.aeroflexusa.com/low-chemical-emissions-greenguard-gold/
Source: EPA, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Indoor Air Facts No. 4 Sick Building Syndrome