A Closer Look At Volatile Organic Compounds


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. VOCs can be found in nature or associated with human activities such as the production of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. VOCs are often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry-cleaning agents that can become ground-water contaminants.

Typical VOCs include:
Industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene
Fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
By-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform

VOCs include a variety of chemicals that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors than outdoors.

VOCs are emitted by a wide array of common products numbering in the thousands, including: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, glues and adhesives. Learn More.