Odor and sensory irritation at the workplace

Short title: IPA-152_odors_Irritants

Duration: ongoing

Keywords: occupational diseases, hazardous substances

For more than ten years, the IPA has been involved with its exposure laboratory in the field of experimental human exposures with a focus on hazardous substance research on sensory irritants and odors. For about half of all hazardous substances, sensory irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract is the most sensitive response. Human data are therefore particularly important for setting health-based occupational exposure limits.

At indoor workplaces, the topic of "air quality, disturbances of well-being and odor complaints" is becoming increasingly important. Pollutant measurements in indoor air and the evaluation based on guideline or reference values lead more and more rarely to a satisfactory resolution of complaints about poor air quality. Again, standardized evaluation procedures are needed to objectify complaints about odor annoyance.

The integrated study approach is intended to bundle the research approaches previously pursued in different projects in order to achieve greater efficiency and make better use of existing synergies.

In recent years, numerous studies have been conducted at the IPA on the effects of odors and sensory irritants on working people. The spectrum ranges from several experimental human studies in the exposure laboratory of the IPA (ExpoLab) to functional MRI studies or field studies in which acute and chronic effects have been or are being investigated. Methods for objectifying odor and irritant effects have been developed and validated.

Quality-assured limit values for sensor irritants, but also for the evaluation of adverse odor effects, which are derived on the basis of findings in humans, are crucial for the prevention of health hazards from hazardous substances. In addition, the results of the research conducted at the IPA in this context contribute to providing specific and adequate advice to companies and UVT.

A procedure for objectifying complaints about odor annoyace has been developed as part of the project "IAQ-odors", which now supplements the report "Indoor Workplaces - Recommended Procedure for Investigating the Working Environment". With the help of the determined comparative values, reports of health complaints or odor annoyance at the indoor workplace can now be examined and the necessity or effectiveness of measures can be evaluated. The method can also be used, for example, before and after renovation (refurbishment control) or in the evaluation of (new) buildings (certification).

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