The newsLINK Group - VOCs

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Title: VOCs Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that come from solids or liquids that have carbon chains in them. (By definition, the term “organic” means a substance that has carbon in it. An organic fertilizer or pesticide, for example, comes from plants or animals instead of from manufactured chemicals.) Editorial: VOCs 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Understanding VOCs Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that come from solids or liquids that have carbon chains in them. (By definition, the term “organic” means a substance that has carbon in it. An organic fertilizer or pesticide, for example, comes from plants or animals instead of from manufactured chemicals.) Some carbon products are inert; for example, diamonds are made of carbon. Other products are more volatile, which means that the carbon chains can easily break apart to create different substances and chemicals. Scientists have identified thousands of VOCs, which are present in a large number of products: Paints, nail polish, and solvents Cleaning products, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, moth repellants, and disinfectants Building materials, furniture, carpets, and vinyl shower curtains Petroleum-based adhesives, including glues Chemicals used for dry cleaning Auto products and fuels Pesticides People insulate their homes in order to make the home easier to heat or cool, but there is an unexpected negative result: it’s harder for fresh air to get in. In particular, VOCs can become especially concentrated indoors. Concentrations may only be two to five times more than they would be outside, but according to the EPA, one paint stripping product can cause concentrations of indoor VOCs that are as much as 1,000 more than outdoor levels. And even outdoors, VOCs are a problem. You’ve probably heard about greenhouse gases. What you may not know is that greenhouse gases consist of VOCs. The Effect of VOCs on Your Health VOCs can harm your health in the short term and the long term: The short-term health problems are no fun. The VOCs can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. You can get a headache, feel nauseated, and lose your coordination temporarily. Sometimes you’ll experience an allergic skin reaction, nosebleeds, vomiting, fatigue, and shortness of breath. The long-term effects are even worse. VOCs can injure your liver and kidneys, and they can also affect your central nervous system. (This is bad: your brain and your spine are both part of the central nervous system.) Scientists have determined that some VOCs, like benzene and formaldehyde, are carcinogens, and they are suspicious of others even though no direct link has been established yet. Cutting Down on VOCs If you want to reduce your exposure to VOC products, the first step is reading product labels before you buy. Whenever you can, choose nontoxic products that have few, if any, VOCs. Sometimes you may have to buy a product with VOCs, however. Only use them outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. You might also want to think about buying a respirator so you can protect yourself. Sources: Email document from Sophie about VOCs http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/organic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond http://hubpages.com/hub/0-VOC-Paints http://www.airpurifiersandfilters.com/important.php Word Count: 445 Copyscape Clear Date: 12.15.2014

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