Studies have shown that the level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) indoors is generally two to five times higher than the level of VOC’s outdoors. VOCs commonly referred to as “off-gases” are emitted from certain solids or liquids. VOC concentrations in indoor air depend on many factors, including the:
- Amount of VOCs in a product;
- Rate at which the VOCs are released;
- Volume of the air in the room/building;
- Ventilation rate or the area; and
- Outdoor concentrations of VOCs.
In the indoor environment, VOCs can be released by sources such as furniture, paint, adhesives, solvents, upholstery, draperies, carpeting, spray cans, clothing, and construction materials, cleaning compounds, deodorizers, copy machine toners, felt-tip markers and pens and correction fluids. Concentrations of many VOCs emitted indoors are generally higher than outdoor concentrations because of the presence of indoor sources such as building materials, consumer and commercial product use and human activities such as cooking.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF VOC EXPOSURE?
For VOC gas the risk of health effects from inhaling any chemical depends on how much is in the air, how long and how often a person breathes it in. Scientists look at short-term (acute) exposures as hours to days or long-term (chronic) exposures as years to even lifetime. Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems. Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse in people who have asthma or are particularly sensitive to chemicals. These are much different exposures than occupational exposures to VOCs. VOCs refer to a group of chemicals. Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects.
Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.
ARE SOME PEOPLE AT GREATER RISK FROM VOC EXPOSURE THAN OTHERS?
Persons with respiratory problems such as asthma, young children, elderly, and persons with heightened sensitivity to chemicals may be more susceptible to irritation and illness from VOCs.
VOC TESTING SERVICES
We can perform non invasive testing for VOCs at your property. Our VOC testing involves the use of a TO-15 passive canister system. This system uses vacuum pressure in the canister and a flow regulator to extract the sample and runs for 1 hour. The air samples are taken to a lab and the results for this test (which generally takes 5 business days) will be compiled for your review.