Environmental Health


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Indoor Air Quality Testing (IAQ)

Indoor air quality testing (IAQ Testing) is an important component of environmental health, since inhalation is a major route of exposure to many volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to Health Canada survey, 28% of Canadians consider poor air quality as the most important environmental problem, which is more than any other environmental issue.

Indoor emissions of VOCs occur from building materials, consumer products, and occupant activities. Building materials and furnishings (particleboard, insulation, ceiling tiles, carpet, wood furniture) emit VOCs when they are new and after aging due to humidity and repeated cleaning. Pressed wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard are commonly used in furniture and can release formaldehyde into the air. Formaldehyde is a pungent-smelling gas that causes eye irritation, nausea, difficulty breathing, and a burning throat sensation at elevated concentrations in air.
Consumer products, such as cleaners, cosmetics, paints, and adhesives increase chemical exposure in indoor environments. A survey of scented consumer products conducted in the United States revealed that some products emitted over 100 VOCs, including chemicals that are classified as toxic or hazardous. Exposure to some VOCs can cause allergic reactions, chemical sensitivity, and aggravate other conditions, such as asthma.

Occupant activities can affect indoor air quality (IAQ) and contribute to odours. The use of office equipment such as photocopiers, printers and computers increases the level of indoor air contamination. Fuel-burning devices, like fireplaces, woodstoves, or gas stoves produce a variety of VOCs, including formaldehyde. In addition, smoking, cooking, and cleaning cause elevated levels of VOCs that can affect health, especially for individuals with asthma or certain allergies.

High indoor air temperatures and humidity and renovations typically exacerbate air quality problems.

Sources of Indoor Air PollutionHealth Effects of Air Pollution
Tobacco Smoke
Construction Materials
Cleaning Products
Breathing difficulty
Irritation to respiratory tract
Aggravation of asthma and/or allergies

CASSEN Testing Labs Services for Indoor Air Quality

CASSEN Testing Labs has extensive expertise in solving air quality problems in different environments, including residential, offices, schools, and hospitals. Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy is a powerful tool for trace level detection of VOCs, which typically detects up to 300 compounds in indoor samples. Our indoor air quality testing laboratory is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

CASSEN Testing Labs Analytical Packages

  • Odour Characterization – Open Characterization with Interpretation
  • Fragrance Analysis
  • Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC)
  • Print Compounds
  • Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)
  • Sulphur Compounds


  1. Steinemann A.C., et al. (2011). Fragranced consumer products: chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environ. Impact. Assess. Rev. Vol. 31, Iss.3.
  2. Potera, C. (2011). Ptera, C. (2011). Environ INDOOR AIR QUALITY: Scented Products Emit a Bouquet of VOCs. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 January; 119(1): A16.
  3. Health Canada (2002). Air Pollution – Information Needs and the Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviour of Canadians – Final Report