What are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are produced from certain liquids and solids. These gases contain carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. Many of them have adverse short- or long-term health effects. VOCs can be either pungent or odorless and are emitted from chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, perchloroethylene, methylene chloride, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chlorocarbons, aliphatic hydrocarbons, ethyl acetate, glycol ethers, and acetone. These chemicals are found in thousands of products that we use in our daily lives. Some examples of VOC-producing products are listed below.

Home Care Products

  • Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
  • Air Fresheners
  • Moth Balls
  • Fuel Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Pesticides
  • Wax

Building and Hobby Materials

  • Paints
  • Lacquers
  • Varnishes
  • Adhesives
  • Sealing Caulks
  • Solvents
  • Upholstery Fabrics
  • Vinyl Flooring
  • Copiers
  • Printers
  • Glues
  • Permanent Markers
  • Photographic Solutions
  • Composite Wood Products

Other

  • Dry Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Newspapers
  • Cosmetics
  • Non-electric Space Heaters
  • Stored Pain and Chemicals
  • Wood burning Stoves

Research proves that VOC levels are usually two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. In order to accurately detect the concentration of VOCs in indoor air, there are several factors to consider:

  1. How many VOCs are emitted from the product.
  2. The rate at which the VOCs are released into the air.
  3. The volume of air found in the indoor space.
  4. The amount and rate of ventilation in the space.
  5. The concentration level of VOCs in the outdoor air.

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