Chamber testing of adsorption of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on material surfaces

Indoor Air. 1999 Mar;9(1):2-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.t01-3-00002.x.


A simple test chamber method to quantify adsorption and desorption of organic compounds on material surfaces is described. Important environmental parameters such as temperature, relative humidity and air velocity were varied and controlled independently around typical indoor values. Experiments were performed with alpha-pinene and toluene in concentrations of 160-300 micrograms/m3. The measurements show adsorption on and desorption from wool carpet, nylon carpet, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) floor coverings, cotton curtain material and the empty chamber. The ranking of the materials, with respect to their sorption capacity, is as mentioned above. The adsorption of alpha-pinene was higher than the adsorption of toluene for all the materials. Air velocity was not found to influence the sorption of alpha-pinene and toluene on wool carpet, tested with air velocities at 0, 10 and 20 cm/s. The experiments were carried out during both the adsorption and the desorption phase. The uncertainty of the experiments was lowest during the desorption phase. Based on the results obtained, it can be recommended that sorption experiments should be performed as desorption phase experiments. A one-sink model, based on the Langmuir adsorption isotherm, appears adequate to describe the results.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Animals
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Floors and Floorcoverings
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Monoterpenes*
  • Terpenes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Toluene / pharmacokinetics*
  • Wool


  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Toluene
  • alpha-pinene