DS Environmental provides a full spectrum of Volatile Organic Compounds consulting and testing services:

  • Inspections, Sampling, Assessments
  • Final Clearances
  • Project Design
  • Project Management
  • Abatement Over-site
  • OSHA Personal Monitoring
  • Area Monitoring

Volatile Organic Compounds Basics

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, and can pose a threat to both indoor and outdoor air quality.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the emission of VOCs to the outdoors to prevent the formation of ozone, a constituent of photochemical smog. Many VOCs form ground-level ozone by reacting with sources of oxygen molecules such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

Studies have found that certain organic chemicals can be found indoors at levels about 2-5 times higher than outdoors. While there are currently no federally enforceable standards set for VOCs in non-industrial settings, it is important to be aware of the sources and impacts of VOCs indoors, with the main concern being the potential for VOCs to adversely impact the health of people that are exposed.

Common Sources of VOCs

  • Paints, paint strippers, other solvents
  • Wood preservatives
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Cleaners and disinfectants
  • Moth repellents and air fresheners
  • Stored fuels and automotive products
  • Hobby supplies
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Pesticides
  • Building materials and furnishings
  • Office equipment such as copiers, printers, correction fluids, and carbonless copy paper

Health Risks of VOCs

You have to be most conscious of the health impacts of VOCs when dealing with exposure in enclosed areas.

Common Health Effects of VOCs include:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Headache, loss of coordination, and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system
  • In SOME cases, organic chemicals have been proven to cause cancer in animals, and thus potentially pose a similar threat to humans

Steps to Reduce Exposure

  • Increase ventilation while using products that emit VOCs
  • Properly store opened containers of products that emit VOCs, such as paints, thinner, and varnishes
  • Keep products that emit VOCs out of reach of children and pets
  • Follow label instructions carefully
  • Dispose of partially full or old unneeded chemicals safely
  • Buy limited quantities
  • Keep exposure to methyene chloride (paint strippers, adhesive removers, aerosol spray paints), benzene (stored fuels, and automobile emissions in attached garages), and perchloroethylene (dry-cleaned clothes) to a minimum

Contact DS Environmental!

Reducing the concentration of VOCs indoors and outdoors is an important health and environmental goal. DS Environmental can provide the necessary tests to ensure that levels of VOCs within a household are at a safe level. If the concentration of VOCs is found to be higher than recommended, DS Environmental will help create a case-specific action plan for addressing the issue, and follow up after clean up to ensure that safe conditions have been met.

Call us at (303) 286-9094 for testing and guidance!

Helpful Links

EPA: VOC Impact on Indoor Air Quality 

EPA: Overview of VOCs