Sensory Effects for Indoor Air Quality Control

  • Birgitta Berglund
Part of the Eurocourses: Chemical and Environmental Science book series (EUCE, volume 4)


Indoor air should be viewed on the basis of positive criteria that surpass the mere avoidance of negative effects on occupants and buildings. The report aims at furnishing judgmental criteria for defining a good indoor air from the sensory effect point of view and at discussing requirements on methods of testing of sensory effects. Sensory experience is a foundation of all our knowledge of the physical environment. Sensory perceptions are real and possible to explicate, manipulate and measure. Common features of the sensory systems are multisensory perceptions, perceptual interactions and recognition of chemical and sensory patterns of the indoor air. It is strongly argued that sensory effects be used in indoor air quality control. Recently, clear criteria have been presented for the judgment of sensory effects and qualitative values based on sensory effects are now being used. Unwanted odorous compounds should not be present indoors in concentrations exceeding the 50th percentile for detection among the occupants and sensory irritants should never exceed the 10th percentile for detection. In the promotion of good indoor air quality priority should be given to the protection of the sensitive part of the occupant population.


Sensory Effect Sick Building Syndrome Body Perception Threshold Limit Value Sensory Reaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ACGIH. (1982). Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents in the Workroom Environment with Intended Changes for 1982. Cincinnati: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.Google Scholar
  2. ACGIH. (1986). Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices for 1986–1987. Cincinnati: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.Google Scholar
  3. Ahlström, R., Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1986). Formaldehyde odor and its interaction with the air of a sick building. Environment International 12, 289–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andersen, I., Seedorff, L., & Skov, A. (1982). A strategy for reduction of toxic indoor emissions. Environment International 8, 11–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anger, W.K. (1984). Neurobehavioral testing of chemicals: Impact on recommended standards. Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 6, 147–153.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. ASHRAE. (1989). ASHRAE Standard 62–1989: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Airconditioning Engineers, Inc.Google Scholar
  7. Baird, J.C. & Berglund, B. (1989). Thesis for environmental psychophysics. Journal of Environmental Psychology 9, 345–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baird, J.C, Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1990). Symptom patterns as an early warning signal of community health problems. Environment International 16, 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baird, J.C, Berglund, B., Berglund, U., Nicander-Bredberg, H., & Noma, E. (1987). Distinguishing between healthy and sick preschools by chemical classification. Environment International 13, 167–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baird, J.C, & Noma, E. (1978). Fundamentals of Scaling and Psychophysics. New York: Wiley-Interscience.Google Scholar
  11. Berglund, B. (1974). Quantitative and qualitative analysis of industrial odors with human observers. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 237, 25–51.Google Scholar
  12. Berglund, B. (1990). The role of sensory reactions for guides of non-industrial indoor air quality. In D.M. Weekes & R.B. Gammage (Eds.), The Practioner’s Approach to Indoor Air Quality Investigations. Akron, OH: American Industrial Hygiene Association, pp. 113–130.Google Scholar
  13. Berglund, B. (1991). Quality assurance in environmental psychophysics. In S.J. Bolanowski & G.A. Gescheider (Eds.), Ratio Scaling of Psychological Magnitudes-A Tribute to the Memory of S.S. Stevens. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., Ch. 11, pp. 140–162.Google Scholar
  14. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., Högman, L., Johansson, I., & Lindvall T. (1985). Measurement of formadehyde odor indoors. In P.O. Fanger (Ed), CLIMA 200. Vol 4 .Indoor Climate. Copenhagen: WS Congres-WS Messe, pp. 251–257.Google Scholar
  15. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1976). Psychological processing of odor mixtures. Psychological Review 83, 432–441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1978). Olfactory self- and cross-adaptation: Effects of time of adaptation on perceived odor intensity. Sensory Processes 2, 191–197.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1986a). Theory and methods of olfactory evaluation. Experientia 42, 280–287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., & Lindvall, T. (1986b). Assessment of discomfort and irritation from the indoor air. In: IAQ’86. Managing Indoor Air for Health and Energy Concervation. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating Regfrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, Inc., pp. 138–149.Google Scholar
  19. Berglund, B., Berglund, U., Lindvall, T. & Nicander-Bredberg, H. (1982). Olfactory and chemical characterization of indoor air-Towards a psychophysical model for air quality. Environment International 8, 327–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Berglund, B., Högman, L., & Johansson, I. (1988) Reliability of odor measurements near threshold. Reports from the Department of Psychology, University of Stockholm, No. 682.Google Scholar
  21. Berglund, B., Högman, L., & Olsson, M.J. (1988). The combined effect of formaldehyde and ratiant heat on odor intensity and sensory irritation. In O. Manninen (Eds.), Recent Advances in Researches on the Combined Effects of Environmental Factors. Tampere, Finland: International Society of Complex Environmental Studies, pp. 567–579.Google Scholar
  22. Berglund, B., Johansson, L, & Lindvall, T. (1989). Volatile organic compounds from used building materils in a simulated chamber study. Environment International 15, 383–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Berglund, B., & Lindvall, T. (1979). Olfactory evaluation of indoor air quality. In P.O. Fanger & O. Valbj0rn (Eds.), Indoor Climate. Copenhagen: Danish Building Research Institute, pp. 141–158.Google Scholar
  24. Berglund, B., & Lindvall, T. (1982). Olfaction. In D.F. Proctor & I. Andersen (Eds.), The Nose: Upper Airway Physiology and the Atmospheric Environment. Amsterdam: Elsevier Biomedical Press, pp. 279–305.Google Scholar
  25. Berglund, B., & Lindvall, T. (1986). Sensory reactions to “sick buildings”. Environment International 12, 147–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Berglund, B., & Nordin, S. (1990). Utilizing individual differences in loudness measurement. In F. Müller (Ed.), Fechner Day ’90. Würzburg, FRG: Institut für Psychologie, Universität Würzburg, pp. 117–122.Google Scholar
  27. Boring, E.G. (1929). A History of Experimental Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. (also 1957)Google Scholar
  28. Cain, W.S. (1979). Ventilation and odor control: prospects for energy savings. ASHRAE Transactions 85 (1), 784–792.Google Scholar
  29. Cain, W.S., See, L.C., & Tosun, T. (1986). Irritation and odor from formaldehyde: chamber studies. In: IAQ 86. Managing Indoor Air for Health and Energy Conservation. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, pp. 126–137.Google Scholar
  30. Cometto-Muñiz J.E., & Cain, W.S. (1990). Thresholds for odor and nasal pungency. Physiology & Behavior 48, 719–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Cometto-Muñiz J.E., & Cain, W.S. (1991). Influence of airborne contaminants on olfaction and the common chemical sense. In T.V. Getchell, L.M. Bartoshuk, R.L. Doty & J.B. Snow Jr (Eds.), Smell and Taste in Health and Disease. New York: Raven Press, Ch. 49, pp. 765–785.Google Scholar
  32. Craik, K.H. & Zube, E.H. (1975). Issues in Perceived Environmental Quality Research. Amherst, Mass.: Institute for Man and Environment.Google Scholar
  33. Corbit, T.E., & Engen, T. (1971). Facilitation of olfactory detection. Perception & Psychophysics 10, 433–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fazzalari, F.A. (1978). Compilation of Odor and Taste Threshold Values Data Phila¬delphia: American Society for Testing and Materials.Google Scholar
  35. Gemert, L.J. van & Nettenbreijer, A.H. (1977). Compilation of Odour Threshold Values in Air and Water. Zeist, The Netherlands: Central Institute for Nutrition and Food Research, TNO (Report RID 3–79).Google Scholar
  36. Haider, M., Kundi, M., Groll-Knapp, E. & Koller, M. (1990). Interactions between noise and air pollution. Environment Internationl 16, 593–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hensel, H. (1982). Thermal Sensations and Thermoreceptors in Man. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  38. Lindvall, T. (1985). Exposure limits for office environments. Annals of the American Conference of Industrial Hygienists 12, 99–108.Google Scholar
  39. Lindvall, T., & Radford, E.P. (Eds.) (1973). Measurement of annoyance due to exposure to environmental factors. Environmental Research 6, 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Luce, R.D., & Green, D.M. (1974). Detection, discrimination and recognition. In E.C. Carterette & M.P. Friedman (Eds.), Handbook of Perception. Vol. II: Psychophysical Judgment and Measurement. New York: Academic Press, pp. 299–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marks, L.E. (1974). Sensory Processes. The New Psychophysics. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  42. Marks, L.E. (1988). Magnitude estimation and sensory scaling. Perception & Psycho-physics 43, 511–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mountcastle, V.B. (1975). The view from within: Pathways to the study of perception. Johns Hopkins Medical Journal 136,109–131.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Noma, E., Berglund, B., Berglund, U., Johansson, I., Baird, J.C. (1988). Joint representation of physical locations and volatile organic compounds in indoor air from a healthy and a sick building. Atmospheric Environment 22, 451–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Popper, K.R., & Eccles, J.C. (1977). The Self and its Brain. An Argument for Interactionism. Berlin: Springer Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stevens, J.C. (1976). Equal-sensation functions generated by the method of magnitude estimation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 59, 473–474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stevens, S.S. (1956). The direct estimation of sensory magnitudes-loudness. American Journal of Psychology 69, 1–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stevens, S. S. (1975). Psychophysics. Introduction to its Perceptual, Neural and Social Prospects. New York: Wiley-Interscience.Google Scholar
  49. Torgerson, W.S. (1958). Theory and Metods of Scaling. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  50. UNESCO (1973). Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB): Expert Panel on Project 13: Perception of Environmental Quality. Paris: UNESCO House, MAB Report Series No 9.Google Scholar
  51. WHO. (1987). Air Quality Guidelines for Europe. Copenhagen: World Health Organiza¬tion, European Series No. 23.Google Scholar
  52. WHO (1989a). Formaldehyde. Geneva: World Health Organization, Environmental Health Criteria 89.Google Scholar
  53. WHO. (1989b). Indoor Air Quality: Organic Pollutants. Copenhagen: World Health Organization, EURO Reports and Studies No. 111.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birgitta Berglund
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Medicine Karolinska Institute & Department of PsychologyUniversity of StockholmStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations