IAQ guidelines for selected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the UK

Clive Shrubsole, S. Dimitroulopoulou*, K. Foxall, B. Gadeberg, A. Doutsi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Poor indoor air quality, can cause a variety of adverse health effects. Pollutant exposure levels inside buildings are likely due to pollutants from both indoor and outdoor sources. Although there are many indoor airborne pollutants, the current review focusses on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and considers the current Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) standards alongside other guideline values, to control levels within the indoor environment. We reviewed the current scientific data showing the occurrence of various VOCs in buildings internationally, and the available toxicological reviews for the individual VOCs with potential for adverse health effects that require attention. We considered available health-based general population indoor guidelines for long and short-term exposure in respect of individual compounds, including acetaldehyde, α-pinene, D-limonene, formaldehyde, naphthalene, styrene, tetrachloroethylene, toluene and xylenes (mixture). We conclude individual VOC guidelines are the most appropriate way forward and that TVOC can be used as an indicator for indoor air quality. This study highlights which compounds should be prioritised for monitoring purposes. Our findings inform discussions around the improvement of general population health, source control and the need to raise awareness of the potential impacts of pollutants in the home.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106382
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the authors of the many publications quoted, who supplied their base data for analysis and answered our many questions; in particular Louis Cony Renaud Salis of the University of La Rochelle louis.cony-renaud-salis@univ-lr.fr for help and assistance given. This research is funded by Public Health England .


  • Building regulations
  • Guidelines
  • Indoor air quality
  • TVOC
  • VOC
  • Volatile organic compounds


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