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Do you know how your kitchen cabinets affect indoor quality? Novart Oy decided to test theirs

3/26/2014

In construction, indoor air quality is ensured by means such as using materials with low emission levels. Leading kitchen cabinet manufacturer Novart Oy wanted to find out the emission levels of their products. Novart sells familiar kitchen brands such as Petra, Ala Carte and Parma.

No emission requirements specific to kitchen fittings – M1 classification possible in the future

"No emission requirements apply to kitchen units yet, but we wanted to identify the emission levels of our products and communicate about these qualities to our customers. Low emissions are one of the rising trends in construction, and emissions have been a topical issue with builders who are familiar with the M1 classification of building materials, but also with private customers," says Product Manager Eeva Kokkonen from Novart Oy.

Previously, it was not possible to acquire the M1 classification for kitchen fittings, but this changed in early 2014 when the Building Information Foundation RTS added them as a new product group for M1 labelling. As a result, the classification can now be used to verify low emission levels of kitchen fittings. Requirements include low emission levels but also emission testing by a test laboratory approved by RTS.

Testing in test chambers                                                         

"Emissions are measured using so-called chamber tests, measuring the compounds emitted and contents thereof, volatile organic compounds VOC/TVOC, ammonia and formaldehyde. The M1 classification also requires a sensory assessment to ensure, for example, that the product does not emit unpleasant odours," says Senior Expert Helena Järnström from VTT Expert Services Ltd.

"We took advantage of our wide range of chambers during testing. We used a large chamber to test an entire kitchen cabinet system to measure its total emission levels. In addition, we tested individual door models in smaller chambers."

Options with low emissions include melamine, microlaminate and laminate

"We were aware of the emission levels of the raw materials used in our products, but were not aware on how processing them impacted the emission levels of the final product," Kokkonen says.

There was a clear link between the surface treatment and emission levels of different door models.

Some of the tested products achieved very low levels of emissions that fall significantly below those required in the M1 classification: melamine, microlaminate and laminated folding doors as well as doors with wooden banding (laminate/varnished oak banding). The emission levels of the entire kitchen unit system that was tested in the large chamber also fell below the M1 requirements (white laminate folding doors). These door models are the first in Finland with the M1 classification as a proof of their low emission levels.

Click here for a list of M1 classified products (scroll to the end to find kitchen fittings)

However, the emission levels recorded for painted and varnished products were quite high in comparison. The recorded levels of formaldehyde exceed the M1 requirements.

"We do need to include these products in our portfolio, too. Now that we are aware of the emission levels of these products, we can communicate openly about them to our customers. Indoor air quality is a sum of many parts, such as materials used in construction and ventilation. Good ventilation is very important in terms of the overall situation," Kokkonen sums up.

VTT Expert Services Oy carries out reliable M1 emission measurements

Our test laboratory has been approved and accredited by RTS, and we carry out all the tests required for M1 classification. Our extensive selection of test chambers enables testing of both small and large test pieces.

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