Materials-related emissions from agents employed in computer appliances

Project No. BIA 1080


completed 12/2004


Materials-related emissions from computer appliances may, particularly under operating conditions, lead to exposure to atmospheric pollutants in indoor areas. The monitoring and limiting of potential emissions sources is of particular importance for a preventive strategy aimed at assuring high air quality standards at office workplaces. At the initiative of the institution for statutory accident insurance and prevention in the banking, insurance and administration sectors, the liberal professions and special undertakings (VBG), assessment criteria for materials-related organic and chemical emissions from computer appliances such as PCs and monitors were to be developed in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz Institute (WKI), Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry, Braunschweig. Based upon these assessment criteria, principles for testing and certification were to be drafted by means of which the BG-PRÜFZERT mark for this class of device can be extended in its scope by the BG Expert Committee Administration (FA VW). In the past, the mark considered only physical emissions (radiation).


Development of a provisional test concept was based upon published results of the nature, scale and characteristic over time of the materials-related emissions from electronic devices employing similar materials (such as televisions and video recorders) under defined test chamber conditions; ECMA Standard 328 (ECMA, European Computer Manufacturers Association); and the test chamber standard E DIN EN 13419-1, "Building products - Determination of the emission of volatile organic compounds - Part 1: Emission test chamber method". Provisional test limit values in the form of specific emission rates were calculated from recommended values for indoor areas based upon the model room described in E DIN EN 13419. Consideration was also given to the current technically achievable emission rates and toxicological findings concerning the emitted substances. The provisional concept was tested by way of example in pilot trails on five different brand-new office appliances (one PC and four monitors). In the studies, the appliances were tested for emissions of volatile and low-volatile compounds during operation over a period of 14 days in a dynamic 1 m³ emission test chamber.


The example office appliances studied exhibited substantial differences in their emissions behaviour. As anticipated, the emissions of volatile organic compounds dropped discernibly over the duration of the test. Conversely, the measurement results obtained show that the low-volatile organic compounds, which are added as softeners and/or flameproofing agents to the materials from which the appliances are manufactured, are emitted in a comparable order of magnitude over a longer period of time. Assuming the theoretical concentrations in a room atmosphere obtained by model calculations from the measured emission rates for the appliances concerned, existing recommended values for indoor areas would be observed. Proposed test limit values derived provisionally from the state of the art were exceeded by the phenol emissions from two of the four monitors studied. The measurement results were also considered in proposed principles, which were communicated to the FA VW, for the testing and assessment of emissions from appliances.

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Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BIA
  • Fraunhofer Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut (WKI)


Type of hazard:

Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Arbeitsumwelt (Belastungen, Gefährdungen, Expositionen, Risiken), Gerätesicherheit, Toxikologie

Description, key words:

working environment, equipment safety, toxicology, emissions from office appliances, BG-PRÜFZERT mark