When buildings make people ill

Healthy indoor air is crucial for people's health and wellbeing, both at home and at their place of work. We spend up to 90% of the day in enclosed spaces. When combined with buildings designed to be increasingly well insulated, emissions from furnishings, cleaning products or building materials may have a major impact on ambient air quality and consequently on the health of the people inside.

argeted testing can usually establish whether so-called “indoor toxins”, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde or biological micro-organisms, may be causing health problems. We will be happy to advise and provide guidance during the evaluation and remediation work.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is present throughout Switzerland. If radon penetrates buildings and accumulates undetected, this may result in high levels of the gas and the associated harmful health effects.

Compulsory testing is carried out in schools and childcare settings, as well as in workplaces at particular risk (such as those underground). Individuals have a statutory right to have radon levels tested on a voluntary basis, such as at home or at their workplace. Dosimeters are a simple and cost-effective way of measuring levels of radon concentration.

Our radon specialists advise developers and construction professionals on the implementation of preventative safeguards for new builds and on the decontamination work to be undertaken in existing buildings.


Ecosens is certified to carry out air sample testing by the Swiss certification body for construction products (S-Cert AG) and is approved by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) to conduct radon testing.

Ecosens ist durch die Schweizerische Zertifizierungsstelle für Bauprodukte (S-Cert AG) für Luftmessungen zertifiziert und vom Bundesamt für Gesundheit (BAG) als Radonmessstelle anerkannt.

Our services:

  • Reports on ambient air quality and indoor toxins
  • Investigation of unpleasant odours
  • Investigation of mould and mildew
  • Sampling and ambient air testing for formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, CO₂, mould and mildew and other substances
  • Examination of wood preservative and house dust
  • Health assessments and toxicological evaluations
  • Workplace ambient air testing
  • Analysis of the source of air pollution
  • Radon testing in living spaces, schools, childcare settings and workplaces
  • Conducting ambient air testing for the Swiss Minergie-ECO certification
  • Advice on the selection and use of sustainable, healthy building materials, as well as site monitoring
  • Specialist advice when planning decontamination projects, remediation guidance
  • Communications advice for authorities, parties involved and the media
  • Applied research

Your contact in German-speaking Switzerland:

Pascal Diefenbacher Divisional manager for indoor air quality
Dr. sc. Environmental Sciences (Federal Institute of Technology)
pdiefenbacher@ecosens.ch +41 44 839 47 97 More

Pia Buser Project manager for indoor air quality, radon specialist
Diploma in Environmental Engineering, ETH (Federal Institute of Technology)
pbuser@ecosens.ch +41 44 839 47 45 More

Raphael Rapold Project Manager: Inddor air quality
MSc. economic chemistry

rrapold@ecosens.ch +41 44 839 47 90 More

Your contact in French-speaking Switzerland:

Stefan Fuchs Partner, Fribourg branch manager
Diploma in Geological Sciences BENEFRI UniFR Geologist CHGEOL
sfuchs@ecosens.ch +41 26 422 39 55 More

Case studies

Naphthalene in indoor air - Risk assessment and development of a remediation concept

An old multi-storey building in a major Swiss city was to  be repurposed. When planning the renovation work, one of the participants noticed an unpleasant chemical smell. Chemical analysis of the indoor air showed that it was strongly polluted with naphthalene.

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Radon measurements in cantonal vocational schools and secondary schools

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive ground gas that can penetrate into the building through leaks between building and soil and accumulate, particularly on  the lower floors. Radon inhaled in high concentrations over a long time can lead to lung cancer.

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Monitoring the formaldehyde remediation of a school building

Increased formaldehyde concentrations in the indoor air were found to be the cause of health problems among teaching staff in a school building in the Canton of Zurich. Formaldehyde is used in the production of synthetic resins, which are in turn used in the production of chipboard and other laminated wood materials.

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Study into the contamination of indoor air by emissions from construction materials

When ambient air is tested in new buildings or following renovation works, elevated levels of problematic substances continue to be detected. One of these is the suspected carcinogen methylethyl ketone oxime. Possible sources include construction products such as wooden floor treatments, joint sealants and paint.

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Radon testing in schools and childcare settings

After the new Radiological Protection Ordinance came into force on 1 January 2018, radon testing must now be carried out in schools, nurseries and some other childcare settings throughout Switzerland.

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Inspection of an apartment affected by mould

The management of an apartment building in the canton of Aargau instructed Ecosens AG to carry out a survey of an apartment affected by mould.

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