This article was originally published in the November/December 1999 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online November/December 1999
UL Sets Standards for Indoor Air QualityHow do we regulate the amounts of indoor air pollutants that are allowed to build up in the houses we live in? The answer is: We don't. But because of pressure from communities and environment groups concerned with rising rates of asthma and sick building problems, Underwriters' Laboratories' Environmental and Public Health Council is stepping in to fill the vacuum by developing a new standard: UL 2117 Standards for Indoor Air Emissions of Equipment, Furnishings, Products, and Floor, Wall and Ceiling Treatments.
UL has put together a technical committee with three workgroups consisting of experts in the fields that will be affected by the new standard. The goal is to develop standardized testing methods by which equipment; furnishings; products; and floor, wall, and ceiling treatments used indoors can be evaluated for their potential impacts on indoor air quality and human health. The standards will affect textiles (such as fabric and carpets), paints, adhesives and coatings, construction materials, heating and air conditioning equipment, indoor air-cleaning materials, office equipment, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, furniture, cleaning products, and insecticides.
How will the standards affect contractors? This is a voluntary standard, stresses UL's executive liason for health and environment, George Kupfer. Some communities and regulators will probably adopt the standard into regulations, he says, but others may not. If communities reference this standard in their local regulations, people who design, build, and furnish homes will have to use equipment and products that are certified to the standard.
The first section of the standard, which will lay out the general guidelines, will come into effect in early 2000, after approval by UL's standards committees and engineering council and by the American National Standards Institute. The entire standard will be completed within four to five years.
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