The Field and Laboratory Emission Cell (FLEC®) is used for testing VOC emissions from planar materials and coatings in compliance with international standard methods. It offers a low-cost and easy-to-use alternative to conventional, large scale emission chambers.


The FLEC® is widely used in product development, industrial quality control and in environmental monitoring for sources of indoor air pollution.


Samplescompatible with VOC emission testing using FLEC® include:

  • Water-based paints
  • Wood panel products
  • Adhesives
  • Flooring products
  • Sealants
  • Carpeting
  • Ceiling tiles

Principles of operation

FLEC is constructed of acid resisting stainless steel. The inner surface is hand polished and shaped like the mouth of a trumpet to optimise air velocity over the sampling surface and to eliminate sink effects. It is placed onto material to be tested such that the surface of the material effectively becomes one wall of a mini (≈ 35 ml volume) test chamber. A controlled flow of purified and humidified air enters the cell from a baffle around the perimeter of FLEC passing over the test material at flow rates simulating real-world conditions.


Exhaust gases from FLEC are typically collected in sorbent tubes and analysed using thermal desorption - GC(-MS) technology as described in ISO DIS 16017 and related standards. However FLEC is also compatible with many alternative air quality analysis methods. For example when emission levels are high a portable detector may be directly coupled to FLEC for an instant measurement of total organic compounds.


FLEC testing allows a profile to be built up of how emissions from the product will vary with time and to what extent they are likely to impact the indoor environment. It also allows direct comparisons to be made between products from different batches or manufacturers.


Testing is generally required to be carried out on a sample of new material soon after manufacture and is typically repeated 2 or 3 times as the product ages. Sample storage conditions are critical during the test period and guidance given in prENV 13419 Part 3 or equivalent standards should be adhered to.


FLEC is also used to investigate indoor air quality problems in existing buildings where old, damaged or incorrectly maintained materials can be a source of unacceptable indoor air quality.

FLEC applications



Using one of the range of FLEC accessories designed to cope with variable pile thicknesses and sculptured designs, FLEC is ideal for emissions tests on carpeting and carpet / flooring combinations.

In the US, compliance with EPA Policy Guidelines does require all carpets to be tested externally by an approved laboratory. However, even here, FLEC offers carpet manufacturers the perfect low cost and easy-to-use tool for routine in-house testing of batch-to-batch raw material / product variation.


Rubber Flooring


Rubber type floor coverings are often responsible for the emission of VOCs. The rubber itself has to be tested along with any adhesive or floor smoothing compounds used to lay the flooring. FLEC is ideal for this type of application as the flooring can be testing prior to fitting and in situ with the adhesive etc. having been applied.


Wet Materials


All buildings rely on a large number of wet coatings in their construction - for example paints, stains, varnishes, adhesives and sealants. Typically these materials are applied wet and their emission rates are relatively high and decay rapidly.

Consumer and environmental pressures have lead to the development of a wide range of “Low VOC Emissions” products which are now on the market.

A sample of product can be thinly rolled onto a test plate for analysis by FLEC in the laboratory or alternatively FLEC may be used to measure the emissions directly in situ.


Photoprocessed papers


VOC emissions from photoprocessed paper, packaging film and printed brochures can significantly affect the indoor air atmosphere - particularly in working environments. Freshly photocopied paper has been shown to significantly increase the amount of styrene in an office atmosphere, while roto-gravure printed brochures are known to emit toluene from the printing process.


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