6L Summa Canisters verses 1L Canisters

Question: what is the difference between sampling with a 6L summa canister or using a 1L canister? Answer: it is the only way the laboratory can reach the detection limits that you need “WRONG!” Detection Limits are dependent on the instruments not the size of the canister. This could be true if you needed 500-600ml of sample, but if only 100-200mls of sample is needed…then why would you use a 6L canister? It is just like saying for VOC in water EPA8260 that you need a 500ml sampling jar and yet you only use a 40ml vial. Once the sample gets to the laboratory they only use 5 mls of that portion!

According to EPA Method TO-15 (January 1999), it says “Leak-Free stainless steel pressure vessel of desired volume…”


Across the nation more and more sampling projects (vapor intrusion) are switching over to the 1L canisters due to the no-tool ease of use. By using 6L the cost of shipping and labor is almost doubled. Savings found by using 1L canisters can significantly reduce the cost for both shipping and labor while improving workflows and limiting time spent on site.

We would appreciate any feedback … Russ

AIHA Indoor Environmental Quality Committee V4 Comments

AIHA Releases their comments on the IAQ V4 testing

The mission of the committee is to provide a forum for exchanging ideas and information about indoor environmental quality and to participate in the development and analysis of related technological and regulatory issues. Below is the link from their paper…as always comments are always needed.


The main differences for LEED v4 from LEED 2009 are:

• The addition of PM 2.5 and ozone in EPA nonattainment areas

• The target chemicals listed in CDPH Standard Method v1.1, Table 4-1 (based upon OEHHA CRELs)

• Additional test methods for formaldehyde and TVOCs were also added for LEED v4

Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring

…Know Your Sources:

You may be aware that the news has been reporting on imported laminate flooring, from China, having elevated formaldehyde concentrations. The Formaldehyde levels appear to be exceeding the California Air Resources Board (CARB) criteria. Our laboratory has been analyzing formaldehyde in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) for years under the LEED program following USGBC criteria.

We would like to raise a little caution that just an IAQ test may not be conclusive and that a headspace chamber test should be done. The reason for this is that we must realize that we live in a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) world and they are everywhere. Formaldehyde is a VOC and is used in all types of products such as building materials, cosmetics, consumer products and in cigarette smoke just to name a few.

So why is it important that we do a headspace chamber test on the flooring first rather than just an IAQ test? The reason is simple; you need to define the source.

If you measure only your indoor air and you start getting close to the threshold (10-30 ppb or 12-37 ug/M3) how do you know what the potential source is? For all we know the sampling area itself could contain new furniture or new carpeting, people in the house could be smokers or new cabinets may have been installed. We have already seen in our LEED sampling program that formaldehyde has been detected and no laminate flooring was installed.

Since the story was released, Centek Labs has already received numerous laminate flooring samples from homeowners and environmental engineers. The sample results from China and other locations have been more than eyebrow-raising. We noticed elevated levels of formaldehyde in the headspace samples from China and trace amounts if not any of the few USA brands that we have received.

The samples detecting elevated levels are in the process of collecting indoor air samples that the homeowner can easily take and send back to the lab. However, as always they still should have a consultant’s expertise for the interpretation of data.

I know this is coming a bit fast, but before we start going in panic mode claiming we have issues, it needs to be taken slow to confirm the source. Centek Labs highly recommends that you ask the common who, what, when, and where questions.

We will try to keep you updated with any further findings and really would appreciate your comments.

Other great information on formaldehyde in flooring:

Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring – UPDATE

I want to thank everyone who has been contacting us for testing formaldehyde in the bulk and air IAQ test. The phone calls have been very informative and the results have been more than fascinating.

I would like to update everybody who has done work with us on what we are hearing from engineers, consultants, and health officials. The largest portion of all of this is that professionals must tell clients that you cannot compare emissions data directly to health standards. In other words, if your results in the flooring sample are 0.800ppm it does not mean you have 0.800ppm in your indoor air.

Once you have established that formaldehyde is coming off your flooring you have several choices to do the indoor air quality test. They are as follows:

1) A laboratory test should be done by a laboratory that is certified to do formaldehyde in IAQ. Their methods in sampling can be Tubes & Pumps, Badges, or canisters. We as a laboratory prefer small canisters due to ease of use and holding times. What we have been hearing is that you may have to rush the other collection devices back and they may have to be kept cold. Where the small canisters can ship ground and have a 30-day holding time.

2) A calculated value can be done using measure product emissions (what came from your floor) using the California Method v.1.1*. This method includes 3 mass balance modeling equations (for residential, school, and office space) to convert emissions data into approximate indoor air concentrations. However, keep in mind everybody’s living conditions are different so an equation may not meet the needs.

Finally to say if your safe or not is going to be determined by a couple of factors. When it comes to the IAQ test what is going to be the magic number that is going to be used? Many are hearing anywhere from 15ppb to 60ppb and in some cases we have heard 400ppb. As for the emission standard, the majority are hearing .11ppm or 110ppb as the maximum amount and is that going to determine the outcome of all this?

What we as a laboratory have been seeing is even though the flooring has had elevated levels of formaldehyde, the IAQ test have been coming back fairly low, in fact most have met the LEED qualifications of <27 ppb in IAQ in a building.