July 19, 2011 PRLog — Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) refer to chemicals with significant vapor pressures, so they can easily be emitted into the environment as a gas. VOCs can be released from both solids and liquids.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “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: 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 and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.”

VOCs can be a significant concern, especially in newly constructed and in recently remodeled buildings.Many new building materials, coatings and furnishings can off-gas high levels of formaldehyde and other VOCs. Thoughtfully designed structures, conscientiously chosen work practices, carefully selected products and vigilantly supervised usage can all help minimize VOC off-gassing.

The State of California Indoor Air Quality Program has an entire section of its website dedicated to informing people about the dangers of VOCs. According to the website, “Symptoms of VOC exposure can include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Chemicals such as formaldehyde and chlorinated solvents are common in indoor air and may exacerbate asthma and cause irritant effects. Although many indoor air chemicals can cause irritation, repeated exposure may lead to long-term health effects.”

When occupants attribute negative health effects to VOC exposure, we’re often asked to perform assessments of the indoor air quality,” reported Derrick A. Denis, V.P. Indoor Environmental Quality at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “A well designed and implemented testing regimen can help identify any VOC imbalances in the breathing zones of occupants. If unacceptable types or concentrations of VOCs are measured, we guide client towards cost conscious responses that will diminish inhabitant exposures,” he continued.