Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are organic chemicals with high enough vapour pressures to be gases at room temperature. They are the major cause of the ‘atmospheric pollution’ in urban centres.

VOCs can be found in paints, glues, solvents, aerosols, perfume and household products such as personal care and cleaning products. It can also be caused by the burning of transport fuels such as gasoline and natural gas.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) most commonly found in the home

Formaldehyde is found in construction adhesives, building material binders (MDF), upholstery foams and preservatives. Thus carpet, floor coverings, bedding, fabrics, upholstery, furniture, insulation, office equipment and stationary supplies are common sources.

Organochlorines are found in pesticides, solvents & vinyl chloride, many cleaning products & paints that are commonly used on materials.

Products which contain phenolic compounds are found in cleaners, air fresheners, polishes, and hygiene products.

Your child’s exposure to household VOCs may increase the risk of childhood asthma. Some of these chemicals include fresh paint, new carpeting, varnishes, cleaning products, or room fresheners.



Generally, the higher the temperature, the greater the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from sources such as paints, glues, and resins. It is usually more prominent in the north-west corner of the home.


Health Effects of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are easily inhaled and absorbed through the skin may cause a wide range of health effects. Because they are often on objects that people touch, contact with them can lead to skin irritations, rashes, allergies & some even cause dermatitis.

Inhalation is the most common form of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) exposure

Inhalation of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is also associated with eye, nose and throat irritation, dyspnea, headaches, loss of coordination, pulmonary oedema, dizziness, blurred vision, nervousness & confusion. These symptoms may then lead to many other adverse effects such as nausea or vomiting that can further complications. Some Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are carcinogenic.