Standard of Building Biology Testing Methods (SBBTM-2003)

This unique standard gives an overview of the risk factors encountered in sleeping areas, living spaces, workplaces and properties. It offers guidelines on how to perform specific measurements and assess possible health risks. All testing results, testing instruments and testing procedures are documented in a final written report. In case potential problems are identified, an effective remediation strategy is presented.

The various items of the standard deal with environmental factors that can pose a health risk to indoor living. It is the goal of the suggested building biology testing methods to offer a professional and holistic testing protocol according to which achievable reduction or elimination strategies can be developed.

The accompanying Building Biology Guidelines for Sleeping Areas were pioneered by Baubiologie Maes between 1987-1992 in cooperation with the Institut für Baubiologie und Ökologie Neubeuern IBN, scientists, medical doctors and building biology consultants. The Standard (SBBTM 92/5) was issued for the first time in May 1992, the fifth revision followed as SBBTM-2000 in May 2000. The most current Standard was published as SBBTM-2003 in May 2003. Since 1999 an expert panel is responsible for maintaining and updating the Standard including the Guidelines and specific testing protocols. The members of the panel are as follows: Dr. Thomas Haumann, Dipl-Ing. Norbert Honisch, Wolfgang Maes, Dipl.-Ing. Helmut Merkel, Dr. Manfred Mierau, Uwe Münzenberg, Peter Sierck, Dipl.-Chem. Jörg Thumulla and Dr. Martin Virnich.

A Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
1 AC Electric Fields (ELF)
Measuring ELF electric field strength (V/m), human body voltage in the electric field (mV) as well as dominant frequency (Hz)
Sources: AC voltage in cable, wiring systems, appliances, walls, floors, beds, high-tension power lines

2 AC Magnetic Fields (ELF)
Measuring and data logging ELF magnetic flux density (nT or mG)), dominant frequency (Hz) as well as field line distribution
Sources: AC current in wiring systems, appliances, transformers, motors, overhead or ground cables, railways

3 Electromagnetic Waves (Radio Frequency Radiation)
Measuring and data logging of pulsed and unpulsed high frequency electrocmagnetic power density (?W/m2) as well as identifying ELF modulation

Sources: radio and TV towers, cellular phone technology, wireless networks, cordless phones, radar, military applications, electronic devices

4 Static Electric Fields (DC)
Measuring surface potential of static electricity (V) as well as discharge time (s)
Sources: synthetic carpeting, drapes and textiles, vinyl wallpaper, varnishes, laminates, TV or computer screens

5 Static Magnetic Fields (DC)
Measuring static magnetic flux density (?T) and deviation of compass needle (°)
Sources: steel in beds, mattresses, furniture, appliances, building materials, DC current in street cars

6 Radioactivity (Gamma Radiation & Radon)
Measuring equivalent dose rate (nSV/h, %) and radon concentration (Bq/m3)
Sources: building materials, stones, tiles, cinders, waste products, devices, ventilation, terrestrial radiation, location

7 Terrestrial Radiation
Measuring magnetic field (nT) and radioactive radiation (ips) of the earth as well as the respective disturbances (%)
Sources: electric currents and radioactive substances in the earth; disturbances caused by faults, fractures,
underground water courses.

8 Sound & Vibrations (airborne and solid sound)
Measuring noise level, infrasound, ultrasound and vibrations (dB, m/s2)
Sources: traffic noise, air traffic, train traffic, industry, devices, machines, motors, transformers, sound bridges

B Toxins and Indoor Climate

1 Formaldehyde and Other Toxic Gases
Measuring formaldehyde, ozone and chlorine; industrial pollutants, natural gas, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other combustion gases (ppm, ?g/m3)
Sources: varnishes, glues, particle board, wood products, furnishings, devices, type of heating, gas leaks, exhaust fumes

2 Solvents and Other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
Measuring volatile organic compounds (ppm, ?g/cm3) such as aldehydes, aliphates, cycloalkanes, alcohols, amines, aromatic compounds, chlorine hydrocarbons, esters, ethers, glycoles, isocyanates, ketones, terpenes
Sources: paints, varnishes, adhesives, synthetics, particle board, building parts, furniture, cleaners, furnishings

3 Biocides and Other Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (SVOC’s)
Measured are semi-volatile organic compounds (mg/kg, ng/cm3) such as pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, wood preservatives, fire retardants, plasticizer, pyrethroids, PCBs, PAHs, dioxines
Sources: wood, leather and carpet protections, adhesives, plastics, sealers, moth-proofing agents, pest-control agents

4 Heavy Metals and Other Inorganic Toxins
Measuring inorganic substances (mg/kg) such as heavy metals, metal compounds, salts
Sources: wood preservatives, building materials, building moisture, PVC, paints, glazes, plumbing pipes, industry, environment

5 Particles and Fibers (Dust, Suspended Particles, Asbestos, other Mineral Fibers…)
Measuring dust, number and size of particles, asbestos, and other fibers (/cm3, /l)
Sources: aerosols, smoke, soot, dust, building and insulating materials, heating and air-conditioning and heating systems, insulation, appliances, ventilation, environment

6 Indoor Climate (Temperature, Humidity, CO2, Air Ions, Smells)
Measuring air temperature (°C), air humidity (% r.h., aw), oxygen (vol. %), carbon dioxide (ppm), air pressure (mbar), air movement (m/s) as well as small ions (/cm3) and air electricity (V/m), identification of odors and air exchange rate
Source: building moisture, ventilation, heating, furnishings, breathing activity, static electricity, electromagnetic radiation, dust, environment

C Fungi, Bacteria, Allergens

1 Molds (Spores and Metabolites)
Measuring and identifying of fungi that can or cannot be cultivated, their spores (/m3, /dm3, /g ) and their metabolites (volatile organic compounds such as MVOC and mycotoxins)
Sources: moisture damage, heat bridges, building material, ventilation, air-conditioning, furnishings, environment……

2 Yeast and their Metabolites
Measuring and identifying yeast-like fungi (/m3, /dm3, /g ) and their metabolites
Sources: moist areas, hygiene problems, food storage, garbage, appliances, furnishings, environment

3 Bacteria and their Metabolites
Measuring and identifying bacteria (/m3, /dm3, /g ) and their metabolites
Sources: moisture damage, waste water damage, hygiene problems, food storage, garbage, environment

4 Dust Mites and other Allergens
Measuring number and feces of dust mites, pollen, grasses, animal hair (/m3, /g, % )
Sources: dust mites and their metabolites, hygiene problems, house dust, humidity, ventilation, environment

The following measurements can also be part of a Building Biology Survey: light quality, lighting intensity and UV exposure, potable water quality, testing of building materials, furniture and other furnishings, as well as for home and wood pests.

May we direct your attention to the accompanying Building Biology Guidelines for Sleeping Areas, which have been developed especially for monitoring long term risk and the delicate time of regeneration (sleep). The focus in the evaluation process is on experience, prevention and the achievable.

Supplement to the Standard of Building Biology Testing Methods SBBTM-2003

Building Biology Guidelines
for Sleeping Areas

The Building Biology Guidelines are based on the precautionary principle. They are specifically designed for sleeping areas associated with long term risks and a most sensitive window of opportunity for regeneration. After thousands of surveys over many years they have a proven track record and focus on the achievable.

anomaly weak
anomaly strong
anomaly extreme anomaly

A Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
1 AC Electric Fields (ELF)
field strength in volt per meter V/m < 1 1 – 5 5 – 50 > 50
body voltage in millivolt mV < 10 10 – 100 100 – 1000 > 1000
ACGIH (1996) occupational TLV 25,000 V/m; WHO/ICNIRP 5,000 V/m; Germany: DIN/VDE 0848 occupational: 20,000 V/m and general public: 7,000 V/m; MPR 25 V/m; TCO 10 V/m; US Congress recommendation in 1996: 10 V/m; nerve stimulation starting at 15 mV; natural background < 0.0001 V/m 2 AC Magnetic Fields (ELF) flux density in nanotesla nT < 20 20 – 100 100 – 500 > 500
flux density in milliGauss mG < 0.2 0.2 – 1 1 – 5 > 5
ACGIH (1996) occupational TLV 1,000,000 nT; Germany: DIN/VDE 0848: occupational 5,000,000 nT and general public 400,000 nT; WHO/ICNIRP 100,000 nT; MPR 250 nT; TCO 200 nT; BlmSchV 100,000 nT; US Congress recommendation in 1996: 200 nT; Germany DIN/VDE 0107 (EEG): 200 nT; natural background < 0.0002 nT; Switzerland: 1000 nT (long term occupation); WHO/IARC (2001): 300-400nT are considered potentially carcinogenic for humans 3 Electromagnetic Waves (RF) power density in microwatt per square meter Pulsed ?W/m2 < 0.1 0.1 – 5 5 – 100 > 100
Unpulsed ?W/m2 < 1 1 – 50 50– 1,000 > 1,0,00
WHO/ICNIRP 95, 000 ?W/m2; Germany: DIN/VDE 0848 occupational: 25,000,000 – 100,000,000 ?W/m2 and general public BlmSchV, WHO/IRPA: 2,000,000 – 10,000,000 ?W/m2 (depending on frequency); mobile radio tech,: Salzburg Resolution, MD Association, EEG changes 1,000 ?W/m2 (pulsed); EU Parliament STOA: 100 ?W/m2; Salzburg County: outside 10, inside 1?W/m2; pulsed; USA: ANSI/IEE 6 – 12 W/m2 (depending on frequency); cell-phone functions: < 0.001?W/m2; natural background < 0.000001 ?W/m2; 4 Static Electric Fields (DC) surface potential in volt V discharge time in seconds s < 100 < 10 100 – 500 10 – 20 500 – 2000 20 – 30 > 2000
> 30
MPR and TCO: 500 V; damage of electronic parts: from 100 V; painful shocks and actual sparks from 2,000 – 3,000 V

5 Static Magnetic Fields (DC)
deviation of flux density in microtesla ?T
deviation of compass needle in degree °
< 1 < 2 1 – 2 2 – 10 2 – 10 10 – 100 > 10

> 100
Germany: DIN/VDE 0848 occupational 67,900 ?T and general public 21,200 ?T; USA/Austria 5,000 – 200,000?T; MRI ca. 2 T; earth’s magnetic field across temperate latitutes 40 – 50 ?T ± 0.1 – 1 ?T; magnetic field of eye 0.0001 nT, brain 0.001 nT; heart 0.05 nT

6 Radioactivity (Gamma Radiation and Radon)
equivalent dose rate in percent % < 50 50 – 70 70 – 100 > 100
USA federal law: general population < 5 mSv/a and workers < 50 mSv/a; USA average background 1.3 mS/a; depending on the local surroundings: Germany: average 0.85 mSv/a (100 nSv/h); BGA: general population 1.67 mSv/a;SSK (Radiation Protection Branch in Germany) general population 1.5 mSv/a additional impact and workers 15 mSv/a; if deviation from average background radiation is substantial the percentage equivalent dose rate must be minimized. radon in becquerel per cubic meter Bq/m3 < 20 20 – 50 50 –200 > 200
EPA recommendation 150 Bq/m3; Swedish recommendation 200 Bq/m3; Radiation Protection Branch Germany (SSK) 250 Bq/m3

7 Terrestrial Radiation (Geomagnetic Field, Earth Radiation)
disturbance of geomagnetic field in nanotesla nT
< 100 100 – 200 200 – 1,000 >1,000

disturbance of terrestrial radiation
in percent %
< 10 10 – 20 20 – 50 > 50
natural fluctuations of the earth’s magnetic field temporal 10 – 100 nT; local (magnetic storms caused by solar eruptions)
100 – 1,000 nT

B Environmental Toxins & Indoor Climate
1 Formaldehyde and Other Toxic Gases
formaldehyde in parts per million
< 0.02 0.02 – 0.05 0.05 – 0.1 > 0.1
MAK–threshold value: 0.5 ppm; WHO 0.05 ppm; ACGHI ceiling limit 0.3 ppm; BGA Recommendations: 0.1ppm; Katalyse Institute 0.04 ppm; VDI 1992: 0.02 ppm; natural background 0.002 ppm; irritation of mucuous membranes and eyes 0.05 ppm; smell threshold 0.05 ppm; life threat from 30 ppm

2 Solvents and Other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
values of VOC’s in microgram/m3
< 100 100 – 300 300 – 1,000 > 1,000
Molhave (1986) 200 ?g/m3; Seifert (BGA 1990) 300 ?g/m3; Association of Enviornmental Chemistry GfU (1998) 200 ?g/m3

3 Biocides and other Semi-volatile Compounds (SVOC’s)
Values for air in nanogram per cubic meter and in milligram per kilogram for material
pesticides air ng/m3
PCP, Lindane, Permethrin wood mg/kg
Dichlofluanid, Chlorpyriphos dust mg/kg
PCB, fire retardants dust mg/kg
PAH (PAK) dust mg/kg
Plasticizer dust mg/kg < 5 <0.2 <0.2 <0.1 < 0.5 < 100 5 - 50 0.2-5 0.2-1 0.1-1 0.5-5 100-250 50 – 100 5-100 1-5 1-10 5-50 250-500 > 100
> 100
? 5
Values only for chlorinated fire retardants; values only for plasticizers absorbed by dust (total content x 3); PCB according to
LAGA; PAH (PAK) according to EPA; PCP ban in Germany: 5 mg/kg (wood); BGA 1000 ng/m3; ARGE-Bau 100 ng/m3,
1 mg/kg (dust

5 Particles and Fibers (Dust, Suspended Particles, Asbestos, other Mineral Fibers…)
Under evaluation

WHO 200 /m3; European Community 400 /m3; Germany BGA 500 – 1,000/m3

6 Indoor Climate (Temperature, Humidity, CO2, Air Ions, Odors)
relative humidity in percent % r.h. 40 – 60 < 40 / > 60 < 30 / > 70 < 20 / > 80

carbon dioxide in parts per million
< 500 500 – 700 700 – 1,000 > 1,000
USA occupational exposure 1,000 ppm; Germany MAK limits 5,000 ppm; nature: rural areas < 360 ppm and urban areas 400 – 500 ppm small air ions per cubic centimeter air /cm3 > 500
200 – 500
100 – 200

< 100 nature: oceanside > 3,000/cm3; clean outdoor air 2,000/cm3; urban areas < 1,000/cm3; indoor living space with synthetics < 100/cm3; smog < 50/cm3 air electricity in volt per meter V/m < 100 100 – 500 500 – 2,000 > 2,000
DIN/VDE 0848: workplace 40,000V/m; general public 10,000 V/m; nature ca. 50 – 200 V/m; foehn/thunderstorm ca. 1,000 – 10,000 V/m

C Fungi, Bacteria, Allergens
1 Molds (their Spores and Metabolites)
The mold count of air in living spaces should be substantially less compared to the one in the surrounding outdoor environment or in not contaminated rooms. Mold types of indoor air should be very similar to those outside. Particularly toxic species of mold-like fungi such as aspergillus or stachybotrys and yeast-like fungi such as candida, cryptococcus and coliform bacteria should not at all be found in living spaces or in very low quantities. In the event of a suspected microbial infestation indicated by building damages, history of the building, moisture, smells, symptoms of illness, presence of fungi and bacteria an inspection is recommended.

Given exposure limits refer to colony forming units (CFU) on building biology agar (YM anilin blue) and culture temperature at 20 – 24 °C as well as to relative low concentrations in the outside air. Climatic, geographic and the hygiene of rooms needs to be taken in consideration as well.
Spores CFU per cubic meter air /m3 < 200 200 – 500 500 – 1000 > 1000
WHO: pathogenic and toxigenic biologicals should not at all be tolerated in indoor air; if more than 50/m3 of a single fungal species is found, the source should be identified; a mixture of fungi typical for a given location can be tolerated up to 500/m3.

No Anamoly reflects the optimal natural condition or the common and invevitable background of our modern living environment.
Weak Anamoly makes you aware of an imbalance, which following the precautionary principle calls for a remediation in the long term, especially out of consideration for sensitive and ill people.
Strong Anamoly is not acceptable for the Building Biology Guidelines, but requires remediation in the short term.
Extreme Anamoly calls for immediate and rigorous action. In this case international guidelines of occupational exposures limits may be reached or even exceeded.

Any attainable reduction is worthwhile to achieve.
Nature is the ultimate guide.

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