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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Assessment

Levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are usually evaluated during comprehensive investigations involving several indoor pollutants, such as sick building syndrome (SBS) assessments, or as a result of specific complaints. Habitat Environmental performs VOCs investigations either for specific chemicals or a test panel which includes about 60 of the more frequently found indoor VOCs.

Assessments reports include existing Federal and/or State regulations for measured chemical levels, indicating whether established limits are exceeded or not, potential health risks associated, and recommendations to prevent or minimize harmful exposures.

VOCs Sources

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-containing chemicals that are gases or vapors at room temperature. VOCs are chemicals used to manufacture and prepare many building materials, interior furnishings, textiles, office equipment, cleaners, personal care supplies, and pesticides.

All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. That is why they are an indoor air concern. Studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other researchers have found that VOCs are common in the indoor environment and that their levels may be significantly higher than those found in the outdoor air.

VOCs Health Effects

Several of the VOCs present in indoor air have caused cancer in animal studies when the animals were exposed to high concentrations. A few of these VOCs, for example formaldehyde and benzene, are considered by many authorities to be proven or probable human carcinogens.

Some long-term health effects may occur after repeated exposure, including damage to the heart, liver or kidneys; or damage to the central nervous system. Scientific reports have shown that, although most benzene in the atmosphere comes from car exhausts and refineries, these sources account for only one fifth of the benzene people breathe in. The rest comes from environmental tobacco smoke, solvents in the home and the use of other chemical-based products released indoors.