Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Testing Services – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
We offer VOC testing and analysis using state of the art equipment. Our portable VOC meter is valued at over $6,000 and allows on site analysis and testing for more than 280 chemicals and compounds.
“Volatile organic compounds” are substances that contain carbon and evaporate at room temperature. VOCs include many chemicals and compounds not limited to: benzene, methylene chloride, hexane, toluene, trichloroethane, styrene, heptane, and perchloroethylene. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful VOCs typically are not acutely toxic, but have compounding long-term health effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult.
VOCs are used in household and commercial products. Some cleansers, disinfectants, waxes, glues, cosmetics, dry cleaning products, paints, varnishes and preservatives include VOCs. Gasoline, kerosene and other fuels also contain VOCs. VOCs are also found in cigarette smoke and chemical pesticides. Building and household materials may be sources of many VOCs. Carpeting, backing, and adhesives; draperies; wood products that use certain glues, finishes, and waxes in the manufacturing process; and vinyl type flooring and wall coverings may all release VOCs. Since many people spend much of their time indoors, long-term exposure to VOCs in the indoor environment can contribute to sick building syndrome. In offices, VOC results from new furnishings, wall coverings, and office equipment such as photocopy machines, which can off-gas VOCs into the air. Good ventilation and air-conditioning systems are helpful at reducing VOCs in the indoor environment. Studies also show that relative leukemia and lymphoma can increase through prolonged exposure of VOCs in the indoor environment.
The ability of VOCs to cause health effects varies. As with other chemicals, the effects of VOC exposure depends on several factors including the type of VOC, the amount of VOC and the length of time a person has exposure.
Exposure to elevated levels of VOCs may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Headaches, nausea, and nerve problems can also occur. Some people do not appear to have any kind of reaction to fairly “low” amounts of VOCs, while other people are fairly sensitive. Animal studies show breathing some types of VOCs over a long period of time can increase risk of cancer.
VOCs found indoors can be much higher than those found outdoors. This is because a house or building that doesn’t have enough ventilation does not allow potential indoor pollutants to escape and outside air naturally dilutes VOCs, and outside exposure to VOCs tends to be more common in urban settings from sources like vehicle exhaust gases.