Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a wide range of carbon-based chemicals (or compounds) found in various man-made and naturally-occurring solids and liquids.

How are VOCs produced?

Indoor VOCs are significantly more common than outdoor ones. A wide range of products found inside buildings emit VOCs. These include paint, cleaning supplies, furnishings, glues, permanent markers, and printing equipment. VOCs are ‘volatile’ because they evaporate into a gas state at room temperature.

A large proportion of outdoor VOCs are biologically generated by plants and released by their leaves. The type of plant, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and sunlight, determine the VOC concentration. Urban planners often consider this when deciding on vegetation to plant in cities. Typical outdoor sources include emissions from the oil and gas industry, solvent usage, agricultural burn-offs, and transportation. Although biological VOC emissions tend to be larger, man-made sources are the greater concern in urban areas.

What are the health risks and environmental effects of VOCs?

Some VOCs are harmful to human health or can cause environmental damage. Volatile organic compounds are not usually acutely toxic. However, continuous low-level exposure can cause long-term health effects. Risks to workers and the community include throat irritation, headaches, and damage to internal organs. Good ventilation is critical to limit the exposure time for indoor VOCs and reduce risk.

Why use an Aeroqual VOC sensor?

Aeroqual offers a wide range of fixed and portable monitoring systems with a VOC sensor for indoor and outdoor monitoring. Aeroqual’s VOC sensors are non-selective. They have been calibrated against isobutylene but will respond to a wide range of VOCs at varying degrees of sensitivity. Please get in touch for more details.

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