Air & Water Sciences - Environmental Consultants
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Air& Water Sciences


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from a variety of solids and/or liquids. They include a variety of chemicals, some which may have short and long-term adverse health effects. Some of the products that emit VOCs include:

  • Paints & lacquers
  • Paint strippers
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Pesticides
  • Glues & adhesives
  • Permanent markers
  • Building materials
  • Furnishings

...and more. The products that emit VOCs runs into the thousands.

California was the first state to enact its own VOC standards through CARB (California Air Resource Board).

common organic solvents

Health Effects

The health effects of exposure to VOCs are varied. They run from eye, nose & throat irritations, nausea and/or loss of coordination, to damage to the central nervous system, liver and/or kidney damage. Some organics can cause cancer in animals, while some are suspected to cause cancer in humans.

Key signs of VOC exposure include nose & throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness, and declines in serum cholinesterase levels.

Illness caused by exposure to VOCs is known as Sick House (or building) Syndrome. However, this term is also applied to sickness due to other hazards related to buildings, such as exposure to asbestos, lead, radon, and even long-term exposure to tobacco smoke.


Environmental Protection Agency - VOCs
EPA - Sick Building Factsheet

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