Effect and Evaluation of Odors at Indoor Workplaces

The German Social Accident Insurance Institutions have been addressing the topic of indoor air quality and subjective health disorders at indoor workplaces for many years. One aim of these studies has been to use standardized methods to detect and evaluate chemical contaminants in indoor workplace atmospheres. Such standardized methods assist in the systematic assessment of health disorders associated with contaminants: for example, reliable reference values have been set for atmospheric hazardous substances in indoor work premises and in particular in offices.

However, measurements in indoor air and evaluation by reference values do not always lead to a satisfactory explanation of the problem. Complaints of subjective disorders and nuisance odors may arise even when the relevant guideline or reference values are observed. Evaluation of a complaint situation must take into account that a certain background prevalence of complaints can also be observed even in indoor areas without such problems.

The objective of current research into odors is therefore for surveys of the frequency of complaints concerning the room climate, health disorders, and statements concerning the perception and nuisance of odors in office areas used to determine comparative values.