Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at room temperature and low water solubility. Volatility is the tendency of a substance to evaporate at normal temperatures due to its low boiling point.

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include a variety of chemicals which can have short and long-term harmful health effects. VOCs are emitted by a wide range of products including paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies, glues/adhesives, equipment such as printers and many more. Concentrations of many VOCs are much higher indoors than outdoors since many household products are made using organic chemicals. At elevated concentrations, the VOCs can persist in the air long after the activity is complete and therefore increase the number of pollutants in the air. In turn, reducing the air quality and increasing the health hazards.

VOCs can be measured using photoionization detectors and can give an indication of the number of harmful compounds in the air. These monitors can be used at workplaces as well as households and can be used as reminders to introduce ventilation and freshen your space. Health effects caused by VOCs can vary from minor eye, nose, and throat irritations all the way to liver and kidney damage depending on the level of exposure.

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