What are Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that easily evaporate at ordinary room temperature and can be up to 10 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide variety of products such as:

  • Paints and paint strippers
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Office equipment such as copiers and printers
  • Building materials and furnishing
  • Graphics Materials such as glues and adhesives
  • Pesticides
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Tobacco smoke

While most people can smell high levels of some VOCs, other VOCs have no odor which allows persons to be exposed to high level of VOCs for extended periods of time without being conscious of the health risks associated. Odor does not indicate the level of risk from inhalation of this group of chemicals.

What are the health risks?

Exposure to VOCs can cause both short term (acute) and long term (chronic) health effects, this depends on how long and how often a person is exposed to these harmful chemicals.

Common symptoms of exposure to VOCs include:

Short Term (acute) exposure to high levels of VOC

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Triggering of asthma symptoms

Long Term (Chronic) exposure to high levels of VOC can increase risk of

  • Cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Central Nervous System damage

VOCs can also end up in our drinking water. This can occur when these harmful chemicals are spilled or improperly disposed of, usually by large manufacturing companies. Even though some of it will evaporate into the air there will be a small portion that will soak into the ground and can reach water sources.

VOC Testing Services

While we don’t offer any remediation services we do test for VOCs in homes and offices in the Maryland, Washington D.C, and northern Virginia area. If you suspect that you may be exposed to VOCs in your home, contact us. We will conduct indoor air testing and also collect samples of the most vulnerable areas for VOCs and send the samples to a lab for testing.

Get $25 Off Any Environmental Test.