Institute of

Wood Research

Acting Director


Michaela Höner

Institut für Holzforschung


Leuschnerstraße 91

21031 Hamburg-Bergedorf

Phone: +49 40 73962 601

Fax: +49 40 73962 699




Indoor air quality – well thanks to wood?


Thünen Institute of Wood Research recently started new projects in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of possible health effects of wood emissions.

Testing of volatile organic compounds (© Thünen-Institut)

Due to their good material properties, wood and wood products find numerous applications in building constructions and interior fittings. Wood emits volatile organic compounds that can accumulate in interior spaces with modern, airtight construction. The interaction of the mixtures of substances with regard to human health is hardly known. Therefore, in two current research projects the emissions released during the use of wood and wood-based materials are analysed and evaluated toxicologically. The results of both projects are the basis for the future structural use of wood products and should help to avoid uncertainties among consumers when in doubt.

In the first project, the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute for Wood Research will develop a process to evaluate the influence of wood and wood building materials on indoor air. To this end, the scientists are also working with associations of the wood sector. In the course of the project, measurements are to be carried out on real buildings in order to gain reliable insights regarding the use of wood products in construction.

In a second collaborative project led by the Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene of the Freiburg University Hospital, toxicological data for the volatile organic compounds (VOC) from wood and wood products are determined. In the Thünen Institute for Wood Research, the type and quantity of substances released from certain types of wood and wood-based materials are measured. In addition, we will discuss the factors influencing this emissivity behaviour in order to be able to estimate the possible stresses in interior spaces.

A third project is focussing on the development of a rapid test method to measure VOC from wood-based products for early prediction of the long-term emission behaviour and quality control during the production process.

The projects are be funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), via the Agency for Renewable Raw Materials (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V., FNR), in the research focus "Reduction and Prevention of Emissions from Wood and Wood Products".

Project 1: How do building materials affect indoor air quality?

Project 2: Which impact have volatile organic compounds from wood and wood-based products on humans?

Project 3: Rapid testing of VOC emission from wood products