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HHI-Pedia Entry

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

By HHI Staff

A class of hundreds of different molecular compounds containing carbon that easily evaporates, often released from building materials and found as contaminants in indoor air. See also outgassing.

 

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Above definition Copyright © The Home Ventilating Institute. Some content originally appeared in John Bower's book, Understanding Ventilation, published in 1995 by The Healthy House Institute.

 

From HousekeepingChannel.com:

 

VOCs are compounds that evaporate from housekeeping, maintenance and building products made with organic chemicals. Evaporation occurs from both products in use and those in storage.

 

VOCs are found in many solvent-based cleaners, such as isopropyl alcohol, acetone, mineral spirits and paint thinner; dry-cleaning chemicals such as perchloroethane; and some commercial preparations. Many VOCs are flammable.

 

These compounds and their vapors can irritate eyes, nose and throat; cause headaches, dizziness; or impair vision or memory. Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in humans and animals, while others are suspected human carcinogens. Not much is known about health effects of VOCs in concentrations typically found in public spaces such as commercial buildings or in homes. The health issue is even more complex when trying to assess the effect of mixtures of VOCs in indoor air.

 

For safety’s sake, read and follow all label directions on cleaning products. Labels on products containing VOCs may advise wearing eye and skin protection; promoting good ventilation; and avoiding smoking or using the product near any source of sparks or flame.

 

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Volatile Organic Compound (VOC):  Created on October 15th, 2009.  Last Modified on December 24th, 2009

 

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