SIBAT - Ensuring indoor air quality of buildings - inclusion of toxicological criteria in the assessment of building materials

Development of a pragmatic assessment scheme applicable to building practice for the impact of building products on human health

Content Description





There is a lack of pragmatic assessment tools for human toxicity (with special concern to indoor air quality), that can be used within building assessment tool. Methods for assessing human toxicity within life cycle assessments are still in the process of development and testing. On the other hand, labels and classification schemes of building materials are not established yet and assessment tools of occupational health and safety are neglected in the phase of using buildings or building materials. Thus, the impact of building materials on indoor air quality could not be integrated in a sufficient way within the TQ-tool, which has been developed as a building assessment and certification scheme within the programme "House of the Future".

The project considers the interrelation of indoor air quality and ingredients of building products with respect to the phase of usage and the erection phase (impacts at the construction site). It is necessary to distinguish between these two phases as impacts of substances differ according to the respective life cycle phase, e.g. the majority of emission of volatile organic compounds is released during the erection phase.

The life cycle phases of production and disposal/recycling of building products will not be considered as the project concentrates on the impact on the indoor air quality.


  • Development of "Damage Patterns", which indicate the human toxicological impact of building products

  • Development of a pragmatic assessment scheme applicable to building practice for the assessment of impacts to human health

  • Integration of the assessment scheme into the TQ building assessment and certification scheme

Project steps and methods

Module 1 - Inventory
Existing methods for the assessment of human toxicity within life cycle assessment (LCA) are compared to occupational health and safety tools, standards of measurement of emissions, classifications of building products and environmental and quality labels. The inventory will be the basis for the preliminary decision for the structure and covered criteria of the assessment scheme.

Module 2 - "Damage Patterns"
Damage Patterns reflect cases of damage to human health caused by building products and determines strains and impairment of indoor air quality as well as the causalities of these impacts. The findings of these modules and module 1 will result in the determination of the relevant assessment criteria and categories for the method.

Module 3 - Assessment Scheme
On the basis of existing and acknowledged assessment models, of methods (findings of module 1) and identified relevant strains (module 2), a pragmatic assessment scheme will be developed, which will depict human toxic impacts or endangering of building products. In general, a respective assessment scheme may base on the ingredients of building products or on emissions caused by building products. The scheme aims to use the advantages of both principles.

Module 4 - Example of Application
The assessment scheme will be tested for the example of floor coverings including applied adhesives. The respective data will be collected and integrated in a data base. The data base enables the inquiry of relevant data and contains the link with the assessment scheme.

Module 5 - Diffusion
Within workshops or presentations organised in co-operation with networks facilitated by the programme "House of the future", like E3-network or ÖKOinFORM, the assessment scheme will be introduced to the building industry and scientist interested in this topic. Finally, the assessment scheme shall be integrated in the TQ building assessment and certification tool.


The project will result in an assessment scheme for human toxicity of building products within the TQ-building and certification tool. It will be integrated in a data base, which contains the methodology for assessment and data (ingredients, chemical characterisation, toxicological classification) for the product group floor coverings including adhesives and the results of the assessment of these product groups.

Project Partners

Project manager:

Dr. Ines Oehme, Mag. Dr. Manfred Klade
Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur (IFF/IFZ)

Project partner:

Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut
Österreichisches Institut für Baubiologie und -ökologie


Dr. Ines Oehme
Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur (IFF/IFZ)
Schlögelgasse 2
A 8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 316 813909-21
Fax: +316 810274