Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry

Research project

Evaluation of the ISO 16000-28 method: Sensory assessment of building products for indoor use 

Due to the decreasing acceptance shown by consumers concerning unusual or unknown material odors or odor sources in indoor rooms, the assessment of such odors is becoming increasingly important. In order to standardize the odor evaluation of construction products through test chamber investigations, the ISO standard 16000-28 was developed and subsequently adopted in March 2012. The sensory evaluation in accordance with ISO 16000-28 should be incorporated as a criterion into the AgBB Scheme (Committee for Health-related Evaluation of Building Products). The aim of the research project was therefore the evaluation of the methodology regarding its practical application using a wide spectrum of construction products.

© Fraunhofer WKI | Marek Kruszewski

Problems in interior spaces are increasingly caused by the perception of unusual or unknown material odours. The perception of odours is closely linked to emotions and can influence the well-being of the room user. Technology for the assessment of odours in interior spaces is therefore becoming increasingly important.

Nevertheless, there is still a lack of uniform procedures and criteria for odour assessment in interior air hygiene. One reason for this is that odours do not simply multiply; their interaction can be extremely varied and the individual components are therefore not always responsible for the odour impression. Another reason is that the odour-relevant substances are often only present in extremely small concentrations, making them impossible to detect with conventional analytical detection methods.

A wide variety of methods for the odour assessment of indoor areas and/or materials for indoor use exists and can be used as an alternative to chemical analysis. These methods are mainly used in the national labelling sector. However, due to the differences in the assessment procedures, a direct comparison of the results is not possible.

The DIN ISO 16000 - 28 (2010) describes the execution of the following odour assessment methods for building products:

  • acceptance
  • perceived intensity
  • hedonic effect

For the “perceived intensity” method for the odour assessment of interior products, at least eight trained test persons must determine the intensity of a sample using an acetone comparison standard. For this, the test persons must arrange various reference concentrations in their order of intensity and thereby evaluate the strength of the odours. The hedonic effect is thereby also assessed.

The central point of the investigations was the substantiated implementation of the methods concerning the perceived intensity as per the standard ISO 16000-28. The results of the research project will form the technical basis for a suggestion regarding a uniform testing method for the examination and assessment of odour emissions.