Volatile Organic Compounds (V.O.C.'s)

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere.

Volatile organic compounds are a wide range of carbon-based molecules, such as aldehydes, ketones, and other light hydrocarbons.

The term often is used in a legal or regulatory context and in such cases the precise definition is a matter of law. These definitions can be contradictory and may contain "loopholes"; e.g. exceptions, exemptions, and exclusions.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines a VOC as any organic compound that participates in a photoreaction;

Others believe this definition is very broad and vague as organics that are not volatile in the sense that they vaporize under normal conditions can be considered volatile by this EPA definition. The term may refer both to well characterized organic compounds and to mixtures of variable composition.

Organic Gases (Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs)

The EPA tells us volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.

VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.

Examples include:

  • solvents,

  • degreasers

  • fumigants,

  • dry cleaning chemicals

  • paints and lacquers,

  • paint strippers,

  • cleaning supplies,

  • pesticides,

  • building materials and furnishings,

  • office equipment such as copiers and printers,

  • correction fluids and carbonless copy paper,

  • graphics

  • craft materials including glues and adhesives,

  • permanent markers,

  • photographic solutions.

    Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

    EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed.

    Above chemicals pose health risks if they seep into the ground water.

    Click here to go to Home water treatment options

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