The widespread use of new products and building materials has resulted in increased concentrations of indoor pollutants, in particular volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Nowadays, most people spend more than 20 hours per day indoors where VOC concentrations are more than five times higher than outdoor concentrations.
VOCs originate from a number of different possible sources, like building materials, tobacco smoke, people and their activities, and indoor chemical reactions. Exceptionally high VOC levels are typically found in new buildings or after renovation. Further, when using products that contain VOCs, such as air fresheners or cleaning agents, people expose themselves and others to high pollutant levels that can persist long after the activity has finished.
VOCs include a wide range of chemical compounds, the most common of which are listed in Table below.
|Typical VOC Sources||Compound Class||Example Compounds|
|Cleaning agents||Aliphatic hydrocarbons, organochlorides||Tetrachloroethylene|
|Solvents||Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons||Heptane, decane, toluene, xylene|
|Cosmetics||Terpenes, ketones||Eucalyptol, limonene|
|Consumer products||Terpenes, aromatic hydrocarbons||Limonene, α-Pinene, toluene|
|Carpets and flooring||Esters, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons||Butylacetate, heptane|
|Human occupants||Acetone, methanol, ethanol|
VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea. They may also cause damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some are suspected or known to cause cancer.
You can check the list of VOCs here: https://iaspub.epa.gov/sor_internet/registry/substreg/searchandretrieve/advancedsearch/search.do?details=displayDetails&selectedSubstanceId=83723