Sensory irritation in mice exposed to VOC emissions from indoor products

W. J. Muller*, M. S. Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ASTM standard method for estimation of sensory irritation (SI) in mice of airborne chemicals (E 981-84) was modified and applied to the estimation of irritation caused by volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions of products used in indoor environments. This method has the potential ability to relate the results from animal studies to expected human responses. VOC emissions of indoor products are commonly tested using small environmental chambers, according to ASTM standard guide D 5116-90. This standard guidance was used as the basis for generating airborne VOCs emitted from samples of carpet, ceiling tile, wall-covering, resilient flooring, and veneer. Four mice in each test were exposed to these emissions. The changes in the respiratory waveform and respiratory frequency of exposed mice were used to determine the relative irritancy during each exposure. Experimental variables included the product chamber air temperature and the construction material of the environmental chambers (glass or stainless steel) that were used to generate the exposure atmosphere. Increased temperature was found to induce the irritation response; however, chemical analysis indicated that the relative concentrations of major VOCs in product emissions also change in response to elevated temperature. The type of construction material of the environmental chamber was not found to affect the response of the animals above biological variability, although a trend toward increased irritation was observed using glass chambers. The chemical atmospheres were comparable for the two chamber types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalASTM Special Technical Publication
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioassay
  • Indoor air
  • Sensory irritation
  • VOC emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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