Controlling Organic Gases in Buildings: Requirements and Standards

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In the realm of indoor air quality, the control and reduction of organic gases, specifically volatile organic compounds (VOCs), is a matter of pressing concern. Organic gases, such as Acetaldehyde, Acrylonitrile, Caprolactam, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Naphthalene, and Toluene, can be harmful to occupants’ health, and their presence should be minimized. This blog article will explore the requirements for controlling these gases and the standards that govern these controls.

Importance of Controlling Organic Gases

Organic gases, particularly VOCs, are ubiquitous in our indoor environments, emitted by a wide array of products such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, and furnishings. Prolonged exposure to these gases can lead to several health issues, including headaches, eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Several VOCs, like benzene and formaldehyde, are also classified as potential carcinogens. Hence, controlling these organic gases is of paramount importance in ensuring a safe, healthy, and productive indoor environment.

Indoor Organic Gas Requirements

To mitigate the impact of organic gases on indoor air quality, it’s important to establish and adhere to safe concentration limits. Below are some key gases to monitor and their respective thresholds:

  • Acetaldehyde: 140 µg/m³ or lower
  • Acrylonitrile: 5 µg/m³ or lower or Caprolactam: 2.2 µg/m³ or lower
  • Benzene: 3 µg/m³ or lower
  • Formaldehyde: 9 µg/m³ or lower
  • Naphthalene: 9 µg/m³ or lower
  • Toluene: 300 µg/m³ or lower

Existing Standards

There are various international standards and guidelines aimed at controlling organic gases indoors. These include:

  1. ASHRAE: The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers sets guidelines for maintaining acceptable indoor air quality, including the control of organic gases.
  2. EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Standards: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US provides guidelines for VOC levels in indoor environments.
  3. WHO Guidelines: The World Health Organization offers guidelines for indoor air quality, which include limits for specific organic gases.
  4. LEED: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system includes Indoor Environmental Quality credits related to controlling organic gas emissions.
  5. WELL Building Standard: The WELL Building Standard includes “Air” features addressing the reduction of indoor air pollutants, including organic gases.

It’s important for building operators and occupants to follow these standards and guidelines to maintain a healthy indoor environment.


Controlling organic gases in buildings is critical for safeguarding occupant health and well-being. It’s essential to adhere to existing standards and strive for continuous improvement in managing indoor air quality. By doing so, we can make our indoor spaces healthier, safer, and more conducive to productivity and wellness.

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