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San Francisco Air Quality Results from GreenBuild

by / Wednesday, 05 December 2012 / Published in Healthy Building Inspections & Testing
GreenBuild Air Quality Testing

San Francisco Air Quality Results from GreenBuild

Hopefully those who were breathing at GreenBuild are still curious to what was in the air! Below are the air quality results from GreenBuild San Francisco – 2012. San Francisco air quality varies greatly from building to building. Would this building have met LEED standards?

San Francisco air quality

GreenBuild VOC & Formaldehyde Testing via Vapor Monitoring Badges

This is admittedly a very simplistic sampling method and very limited sample size (2 vapor monitor badges). These air quality results are merely for demonstration and only represent a single snapshot in time. The same method of sampling and lab analysis was used for testing air quality at the Green Festival one week before GreenBuild. The next post should be a comparison of the air quality results from GreenBuild San Francisco and the Green Festival.

Formaldehyde Results from GreenBuild San Francisco:


Formaldehyde Results from Vapor Monitoring Badge – GreenBuild San Francisco – Lab Analysis NIOSH Method 2016. Air Quality Results from GreenBuild 2012.


Formaldehyde was detected, but it was measured at relatively low levels [0.006 ppm, or 6 parts per billion (ppb)]. It is worth noting that levels were below the ATSDR’s Minimum Risk Level (MRL) for 365 days of exposure (8 ppb), and well below NIOSH RELs and OSHA PELs.


San Francisco air quality – VOC Results from GreenBuild:


VOC Results from Vapor Monitoring Badge – GreenBuild San Francisco – Lab Analysis EPA TO-15 Supplemented by OSHA and NIOSH Methods

It’s always a little scary to see what exactly we’re breathing indoors. That said – these levels are considered rather low and would generally be considered “healthy indoor air.” None of the chemicals tested for were found in concentrations above (or anywhere near) NIOSH, OSHA or ACGIH limits. Yes, some of these chemicals are nasty… but they were measured in very low concentrations and according to our regulatory agencies would not pose a threat to otherwise healthy individuals.

Chemicals found from the list of approximately 50 VOCs we tested for: Acetone, Formaldehyde, Butane, Ethyl Alcohol, 2-Methylbutane, Pentane and Toluene.

VOC Testing Result – Detail Pie Chart from GreenBuild San Francisco
Concentrations in micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)

If you have any questions about the methods used for these air quality results from Green Festival San Francisco, please check out a previous blog post entitled “Air Quality Testing San Francisco – Green Festival.” This method of air sampling is generally not our preferred approach, but it worked well for measuring my personal exposure over the course of my time at GreenBuild.

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