Test facilities

On over 2000 sq m in Marne-la-Vallée and Grenoble, the CSTB combines research and testing laboratories that focus on indoor pollution. ARIA consists of laboratories for characterizing pollutants, installations reproducing real conditions (home, classroom, etc.) and mobile laboratories for performing on-site measurements. To meet the challenges of health and comfort in buildings, the CSTB guides industrial companies, consulting firms, building managers and transportation companies in optimizing their products and projects, from concept to innovation. Through its multidisciplinary research activities, the CSTB also helps advance knowledge about indoor environmental quality and supports public authorities in this area.

ARIA laboratories for studying indoor environmental quality

Characterizing the sources of chemical emissions into indoor air

In its air chemistry laboratory in Grenoble, the CSTB measures chemical pollutants in indoor air. In particular, it studies volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aldehydes, including formaldehyde, emitted mainly from construction and cleaning products. To do this, the CSTB has environmental chambers that recreate the real conditions of use of materials and products with respect to temperature, humidity and air circulation.

Characterizing VOC emissions from products

The CSTB guides industrial companies in characterizing the sanitary quality of their construction, decorative (coverings, windows, paint, varnish, etc.), cleaning and air freshener products. The results of the tests performed, COFRAC No. 1-1542 accredited (scope available on www.cofrac.fr), provide the basis for mandatory labeling for VOC emissions from products.

Assessing functionalized materials

Functionalized materials are developed to provide new services (for example, purification of indoor air) in energy-efficient buildings. The CSTB assesses the effectiveness, safety and durability of these materials.

Characterizing the emissions of secondary pollutants in indoor environments

The CSTB laboratory analyzes compounds generated by chemical reactions between compounds emitted from various products and physical or chemical agents in real indoor environments.

Improving the microbiological quality of air in buildings

The CSTB is active in improving the sanitary quality of closed spaces (housing units, workplaces, stores, transportation) and mitigating microbiological hazards associated with buildings. The aim is to better understand the development and spread of airborne micro-organisms in closed spaces.

The CSTB develops its expertise through research projects and advises stakeholders involved in industrial innovation. It performs diagnoses of the microbiological quality of indoor air and assesses the health quality of building products and systems.

To this end, the CSTB brings together experts from several disciplines (microbiologists, biochemists, aerosol physicists, microelectronic engineers) at its laboratories in Marne-la-Vallée specialized in bacteriology, mycology, aerobiology, applied virology and microdetection.

Mobile microbiology laboratory

An independent mobile unit of the CSTB can be deployed on-site (for example, at industrial facilities, kindergartens and schools) to search for and characterize sources of contamination and assess human exposure to microbiological aerosols.

Describing the impact of products and systems on air quality using full-scale spaces


The MARIA full-scale experimental house for air research is a life-size detached house equipped with various heating (radiators, floor heating, wood heating stove) and ventilation (natural draft, single-flow, dual-flow) systems. Calibrated orifices are provided on the facade to simulate variable air leaks. MARIA is instrumented to simulate human occupancy and behavior and to measure specific environmental parameters. Sequences from daily life are reconstructed to study emissions of pollutants and air exchange between rooms under controlled conditions. Many types of studies are conducted here: transport of gaseous and particulate pollutants related to occupant activities, chemical reactivity, construction materials, decorations, furniture, performance of ventilation systems, air circulation and ventilation strategy, and VOC and formaldehyde emissions.

Living spaces

Another installation offers realistic conditions at the scale of living spaces: offices, classrooms, etc. Airflow and thermal management of the experimental space is used to study the dissemination of aerosols in rooms and assess the effectiveness of remedial actions.


There is also an installation for testing the purification efficiency of air handling systems.

  • An airflow test section makes it possible to study the efficiency of air treatment in the presence of chemical, microbiological and particulate contamination, at the scale of an experimental network.
  • Experimental equipment is also available to test self-contained air purifyers.

To complement the experimental approach, the CSTB develops and customizes modeling tools for analyzing indoor air quality. It also has unique know-how in data processing for diagnostics and determining sources of pollution.

Laboratory for on-site measurement of indoor air quality

The CSTB is equipped to monitor indoor environment quality in various enclosed spaces. As the coordinator of the Indoor Air Quality Observatory (OQAI), it develops on-site data collection methods at its dedicated laboratory. It also manages a wide range of specific equipment for field measurements to characterize the comfort parameters and physicochemical quality in building stocks: housing units, kindergartens, schools, office buildings, retirement homes . A wide range of parameters are monitored: particles, fibers, organic or inorganic gaseous compounds in air or settled dust, temperature, relative humidity, airflow rates and air exchange rates, air stuffiness through CO2, lighting, noise levels, etc.

Assessing the impact of gaseous pollutants from the ground

In Grenoble, the CSTB has a laboratory specialized in analyzing the impact on indoor environments of gaseous pollutants e.g. hydrocarbons, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and radiological (radon) pollutants emanating from the ground.

The CSTB develops experimental tools to quickly characterize on-site the potential impact of these pollutants on indoor air quality. Mechanical and pollutant concentration measurements are performed to assess the flow of pollutants entering buildings. The CSTB can also conduct building diagnosis and propose corrective actions in order to protect buildings from gaseaous pollutants emanating from the ground.


Assessment of chemical emissions


Microbiological analysis and air contaminants

Sébastien RITOUX

Indoor air quality


Analysis of pollutants from floors



Research and expertise: Creating knowledge and leveraging it