In 2004, the Flemish Government adopted the Indoor Environment Decree (Binnenmilieubesluit). People spend up to 90% of their time indoors, and this makes the quality of indoor air very important as it may have an effect on health. 

The Decree of 2004 stipulated quality standards for chemical, physical and biotic factors in the indoor environment. The values needed an update, and there was a need for a clearly defined, scientifically-based framework to assess the health risks of an unhealthy indoor environment.

As part of this update of the Flemish Indoor Environment Decree, which complements the Flemish Prevention Decree (Preventiedecreet), VITO, as a partner organisation of the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, investigated how the legislative texts and quality standards for the indoor environment could be updated.

Over the past 15 years, VITO has been working on behalf of the Flemish Government to screen the indoor air quality of around 800 homes and schools in Flanders. The measurements VITO took formed the basis for building a large body of expertise relating to quality of the indoor environment.  But the question is, how can the letter of the law and practice be aligned with one another? In addition, it was necessary to find a solution for making an unhealthy home into a healthy one. VITO was commissioned to work together with the Agency for Care and Health to produce a plan that was to ultimately result in the new Indoor Environment Decree in September 2018. For this purpose, VITO determined the chemical, biological and physical parameters that constitute a high-quality indoor environment.

With this Decree, Flanders is taking far-reaching action, more than just impose standards. It provides for a clearly defined legal framework in which all parties are required to work. Furthermore, the scope of the Decree is not limited to publicly owned housing and buildings, but also extends to the private sector.

Anyone experiencing odour nuisance inside a building has the option to request an investigation following consultation with a doctor or policy officer to test if indoor air quality is a possible cause.  
A solution can be sought to tackle the sources of bad indoor air, through engineering interventions, through ventilation or through advice to use products. VITO is happy to provide advice from its years of expertise.