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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Indoor air guideline values: ANSES proposes two values for acrolein

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News of 28/06/2013

There are many potential pollutants of indoor air that can have an impact on both health and well-being. Problems may simply be bothersome (olfactive discomfort, sleepiness, eye and skin irritation) or may cause or worsen a number of serious pathologies. To handle the challenges to health posed by indoor air quality and provide the public authorities with matter to help manage this risk, ANSES has been working since 2004 on the establishment of indoor air guideline values (IAGVs). Following the publication in March of proposed IAGVs for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ANSES today publishes two proposed IAGVs corresponding to short- and long-term exposures to acrolein. 

 

 

There are many potential pollutants of indoor air (chemical pollutants, biological contaminants, particles and fibres, etc.) that can have an impact on both health and well-being. Problems may simply be bothersome (olfactory discomfort, sleepiness, eye and skin irritation) or may cause or worsen a number of serious pathologies, including respiratory allergies, asthma, cancer, debilitating or life-threatening intoxications, etc. The quality of indoor air in buildings is a public health concern in France and in many other countries, since ach individual living in a temperate climate spends an average of 85% of their time in enclosed environments, mainly in the home.  

To handle the challenges to health posed by indoor air quality and provide the public authorities with matter to help manage this risk, ANSES has been working since 2004 on the establishment of indoor air guideline values (IAGVs). These values are defined as air concentrations of a chemical below which, based on the current state of knowledge, no health effect or nuisance which may affect health is expected to occur in the general public. These values are health targets to achieve in order to preserve the health of individuals who may be exposed to acrolein in indoor environments. 

 

Two new IAGVs for acrolein

Acrolein is a volatile organic compound created by the combustion of organic matter in indoor environments (cigarette smoking, cooking and frying, wood burning, etc.) as well as in outdoor air (road traffic, industrial sources, etc.).  It is a substance which is highly irritating to the respiratory tract. The main effects of acrolein as described in humans and animals are the following: ocular and nasal irritation, high reduction in respiratory capacity, reduced pulmonary function, bronchial hyperreactivity which may cause pathological modifications of the nasal passages, the upper respiratory tract and the lungs (irritation, inflammation, haemorrhage, metaplasia, hyperplasia, œdema). 

Today ANSES publishes its proposed indoor air quality guideline values (IAGVs) for acrolein.  

An initial value was set to protect against effects occurring following short-term exposure (6.9 µg.m-3 pour 1 hour of exposure) and a second value to protect against long-term effects (0.8 µg.m-3 for exposure durations of over one year). The establishment of IAGVs for acrolein are based on an analysis of studies highlighting acute effects (studies in healthy volunteers, experimental studies), subchronic and chronic effects (2 epidemiological studies, 5 experimental studies), as well as an analysis of the existing toxicological reference values (TRVs) for acute and chronic exposure.  

Along with these values, recommendations for methods of measuring acrolein in indoor air are being issued, making it possible to clarify the known limits of measurement with regard to the methods available for acrolein, and in particular the absence of a standardised method for the characterisation of long-term exposure in indoor air. The Agency however suggests some interesting approaches based on alternative methods described in the literature.  

ANSES recommends developing as a priority a suitable method of measurement for comparison to the proposed long-term IAGV. 

It also stresses the importance of heightening public awareness of simple ways to effectively reduce indoor air contamination, including airing rooms by opening windows and using exhaust hoods. These methods target the main sources of acrolein in indoor air (food cooking, home heating with wood, cigarette smoking).