Study into the contamination of indoor air by emissions from construction products

The project

Client: The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG)
Reason: Exposure to methylethyl ketone oxime in living areas and other indoor spaces
Duration: 2016 - 2018


When ambient air is tested in new buildings or following renovation works, elevated levels of problematic substances continue to be detected. One of these is the suspected carcinogen methylethyl ketone oxime. Possible sources include construction products such as wooden floor treatments, joint sealants and paint.

For the project “Exposure to methylethyl ketone oxime in living areas and other indoor spaces”, the specialist indoor toxins unit at the Federal Office of Public Health instructed us to establish basic principles to enable effective evaluation of the levels of indoor air contamination and the health implications of methylethyl ketone oxime.

Exposure tests were conducted under simulated realistic conditions and the levels and development of methylethyl ketone oxime concentrations in the ambient air were recorded. The results of these field trials were then compared with emission levels under laboratory conditions in test chambers. The results were used to derive recommendations and actions designed to prevent harmful exposure.


Our services

  • Identifying potential sources (groups of sources) of methylethyl ketone oxime
  • Evaluating available measurements and estimating the prevalence
  • Assessing the health risk to the Swiss population
  • Summarising several studies on the toxicology and critical ambient air concentrations of methylethyl ketone oxime
  • Organisation and metrological management of exposure testing under realistic conditions
  • Conducting ambient air testing at pre-determined intervals up to three months after application
  • Comparing emission levels under laboratory conditions (test chambers) with those obtained under realistic conditions


  • Analysing and summarising a range of toxicological studies
  • Defining the sources relevant to the population for a still relatively unknown harmful substance
  • Developing a realistic experimental design
  • Interpreting the data and summarising this in a scientific report
  • Conducting a comprehensive study in a pragmatic and cost-effective manner

Project manager:

Pia Buser Project manager for indoor air quality, radon specialist
Diploma in Environmental Engineering, ETH (Federal Institute of Technology) +41 44 839 47 45 More