Advertisement

What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate into the air at room temperature. Along with carbon, they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur, or nitrogen. VOCs are commonly referred to as solvents. Many volatile organic compounds are also hazardous air pollutants. They are found in everyday household items such as paints, paint strippers, varnishes, lacquers, wood preservatives, craft kits, glues, fuels, aerosols, cleaners, pesticides, cigarette smoke, pressed wood products, and dry-cleaned clothes. Formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, perchloroethylene (PERC), and acetone are among the many chemicals that are all considered VOCs.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), volatile organic compounds are gases that come from various solids or liquids that are commonly found in your home. Some of the more common gases and liquids can include paint, varnish, cleaning and disinfecting agents and cosmetics. Exposure to the gases given off by these substances can have both long- and short-term adverse effects on your health. It is best to read labels so that you correctly use and safely store these substances.

Continue Learning about Household Safety

Weird Ways Your Home Is Making You Sick
Weird Ways Your Home Is Making You Sick
You vacuum your carpets, wash your dishes and clothes, and clean your windows, so you must have a clean house, right? Wrong. There are some sneaky hea...
Read More
Protect Your Kids from Hidden Hazards in the Kitchen
Protect Your Kids from Hidden Hazards in the Kitchen
Danni’s mom was busy cooking dinner when she heard Danni’s cry. The toddler had found the food processor. While her parents had proactively and carefu...
Read More
How common are waterborne diseases?
Jan CampbellJan Campbell
Almost a billion people on the planet don't have access to clean, safe drinking water. Unsafe wa...
More Answers
Could air pollution in my home or office make me sick?
Leopold D. Galland, MDLeopold D. Galland, MD
Chances are you are exposed to indoor air pollution in the house where you live or the building wher...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.