Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 31, pp 24156–24166 | Cite as

Using the chemical mass balance model to estimate VOC source contributions in newly built timber frame houses: a case study

  • Herve Plaisance
  • Pierre Mocho
  • Nicolas Sauvat
  • Jane Vignau-Laulhere
  • Katarzyna Raulin
  • Valerie Desauziers
Research Article


Basing on the material emission data obtained in a test chamber, chemical mass balance (CMB) was used to assess the source apportionment of volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations in three newly built timber frame houses. CMB has been proven to be able to discriminate the source contributions for two contrasted environmental conditions (with and without ventilation). The shutdown of the ventilation system caused an increase in the VOC concentrations due to the increased contribution of indoor surface materials like the door material and furniture explaining together over 65% of total VOCs. While the increase in formaldehyde concentration is mainly due to furniture (contribution of 70%), the increase in α-pinene concentration is almost exclusively attributable to the emission of door material (up to 84%). The apportionment of VOC source contributions appears as highly dependent on the position of source materials in the building (surface materials or internal materials) and the ventilation conditions explaining that the concentrations of compounds after the shutdown of ventilation system do not increase in equivalent proportion. Knowledge of indoor sources and its contributions in real conditions may help in the selection of materials and in the improvement of construction operations to reduce the indoor air pollution.


Indoor air quality Energy-efficient houses Wood-based materials VOC indoor concentrations 



The project partners thank ADEME for the financial support through the CORTEA program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pôle RIME-C2MAEcole des Mines d’AlèsPauFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Thermique Energétique et ProcédésUniversité de Pau et des Pays de l’AdourPauFrance
  3. 3.GEMHUniversité de LimogesEgletonsFrance
  4. 4.EtheraGrenobleFrance

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