Protecting You At Home
Protecting You At Work
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some
of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are
consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide
array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint
strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment
such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft
materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.
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,
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.