VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are present almost anytime you can smell fumes or scents in your home. Some VOCs are harmless, while others have hazardous effects on your health.
Many household items leech and spread VOCs, such as:
- New clothes, curtains, rugs, flooring, upholstery and furniture
- Fuels, solvents, adhesives, paints and hobby supplies
- Cleaning supplies, deodorizers, aerosols and personal care products.
Higher levels of VOCs are detected inside than outside. If you want to combat the accumulation of VOCs in your home, invest in an air purifier. Be sure to pick a product that suits the dimensions and requirements of your space.
Contact a medical professional immediately if you suspect you suffer from VOC exposure.
What exactly are VOCs and why must we be aware of them?
Perhaps you’ve heard about ‘Volatile Organic Compounds’ health risks. Maybe you’ve seen the acronym on your feed and want to know what VOCs are about. Either way, we can help you crack the case on VOCs.
In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive long list of every known VOC and the potential sources for each one. You’ll also discover precisely what VOCs are and how they might affect your health.
However you decide to handle volatile organic compounds, you must have all the facts.
What Are VOCs?
VOCs are ‘Volatile Organic Compounds.’ These compounds are characterized by their extremely low boiling points. They quickly become vaporous, so they are considered ‘volatile.’
Most smells we can detect with the human nose are byproducts of volatile organic compounds. Many animals, including humans, have strong responses to various VOCs. These responses can be emotional, intuitive, hormonal, or medical.
|VOCs at home|
Perfumes are made of VOCs that vaporize on our warm skin and release pleasant scents. Organic odors, flowers and hormonal scents are all spread via VOCs. Unfortunately, perfumes and flowers aren’t the full VOC story.
Many chemical compounds contain VOCs, some of which pose significant health risks. Unfortunately, these compounds are frequently used in various household products. Household cleaners, polishes, paints, waxes, adhesives and degreasing solutions release potentially harmful VOCs.
Homes are hotbeds of VOCs. They are often found at concentrations 2-5 times higher inside than outside — in urban and rural residences. This is due to VOC build-up from furniture, clothes, cleaning products and polishes.
Where Do VOCs Come From? List of 100 Sources of VOCs at Home
Anything you can smell (and some things you can’t) leech VOCs into your home. Here is our VOCs master list:
|VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC)||COMMON SOURCES IN HOME|
|Formaldehyde||Furniture, carpets, plywood, paints, adhesives, cosmetics, certain insulation materials|
|Benzene||Cigarettes, stored fuels, paints, glues, carpeting, furniture|
|Toluene||Paints, adhesives, rubber, leather tanners, disinfectants|
|Xylene||Paints, varnishes, cleaning agents|
|Ethylene Glycol||Antifreeze, detergents, paints, carpets|
|Acetone||Nail polish remover, furniture polish, wallpaper|
|Styrene||Carpets, adhesives, hobby supplies, insulation|
|Perchloroethylene (Perc)||Dry-cleaning products, metal degreasers, paint removers|
|Methylene Chloride||Paint strippers, adhesive removers, aerosol spray products|
|1,4-Dioxane||Detergents, shampoos, cosmetics|
|Naphthalene||Mothballs, cigarettes, exhaust fumes|
|Carbon Disulfide||Insect repellents, rubber cement, certain fabrics|
|Trichloroethylene||Adhesive removers, carpet cleaning fluids|
|Vinyl Chloride||PVC pipes, wire coatings, vehicle upholstery|
|Dichlorobenzene||Mothballs, toilet deodorizers, air fresheners|
|Chloroform||Chlorinated water, certain cleaners and disinfectants|
|Terpenes||Essential oils, air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics|
|Limonene||Citrus-scented and flavored products, cleaning agents|
|Pinene||Pine or other “green” scented cleaners, air fresheners, paints|
|Methanol||Windshield washer fluid, solid fuels, paint removers|
|Ethanol||Alcoholic beverages, cleaners, paints, personal care products|
|2-butoxyethanol (EGBE)||Paint strippers, window cleaners, carpet cleaners|
|Acrolein||Cooking oils, tobacco smoke, burning candles|
|Isoprene||Vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, certain personal care products|
|Tetrahydrofuran (THF)||Adhesives, magnetic tape, PVC cement|
|Propylene Glycol||De-icing fluids, laundry detergent, cosmetics|
|Ethyl Acetate||Nail polish remover, glues, paints|
|2-Ethoxyethanol||Paints, varnishes, cleaning products|
|Butanal||Resins, rubber, plastics|
|Hexane||Glues, cleaning agents, paint thinners|
|Phenol||Resins, textiles, detergents|
|Cyclohexane||Oil-based paints, varnishes|
|Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK)||Lacquers, paint strippers, adhesives|
|Octane||Gasoline, paints, adhesives|
|Isobutane||Refrigeration coolants, fuel, aerosol propellant|
|Methyl Methacrylate||Resins, floor polishes, paints|
|1,2-Dichloroethane (DCE)||Solvents, degreasers|
|Dichloromethane (DCM)||Paint strippers, degreasers|
|Tetrachloroethene (PCE)||Dry cleaning fluids, degreasers|
|Carbon Tetrachloride||Cleaning agents, degreasers|
|Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)||Gasoline, paint thinners|
|Vinyl Acetate||Adhesives, textiles, paper coatings|
|Acetaldehyde||Disinfectants, fruit and vegetable wash products|
|Acrylonitrile||Plastics, synthetic rubbers|
|Phthalates||Plasticizers in PVC items, toys, flooring, food packaging|
|Butyl Acrylate||Adhesives, sealants, paints|
|Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)||Paint thinners, varnishes, lacquers|
|Ethylbenzene||Paints, inks, adhesives|
|Methyl Chloride||Refrigerants, aerosol propellants|
|Methylcyclohexane||Solvents, paint removers|
|Methylcyclopentane||Solvents, paint removers|
|2-Propanol||Cleaning agents, disinfectants|
|Propionaldehyde||Resins, plastics, rubber|
|Propyl Acetate||Inks, coatings, adhesives|
|Propylene Oxide||Polyurethane foams, fumigants|
|Styrene Monomer||Plastics, resins, rubber|
|Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI)||Polyurethane foams, coatings|
|Trichlorofluoromethane||Refrigerants, aerosol propellants|
|Vinyl Chloride Monomer||PVC resins, coatings|
|Xylenes (mixed isomers)||Paint thinners, varnishes, pesticides|
|Isopropyl Alcohol||Disinfectants, antiseptics, cleaning agents|
|Acetonitrile||Adhesives, pharmaceuticals, photography films|
|Acrylamide||Contact lenses, paper, dyes|
|Allyl Chloride||Epoxy resins, water treatment|
|Aniline||Rubber, dyes, pharmaceuticals|
|Benzyl Chloride||Dyes, pharmaceuticals, photographic materials|
|Bisphenol A||Plastics, epoxy resins, polycarbonate plastics|
|Butyl Benzyl Phthalate||PVC flooring, car-care products|
|Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)||Food packaging, cosmetics|
|Cadmium & Cadmium Compounds||Batteries, pigments, coatings|
|Chlorobenzene||Degreasers, moth repellents, chemical synthesis|
|Chlorodifluoromethane||Refrigerants, aerosol propellants|
|Chloroethane||Refrigerants, aerosol propellants|
|Chloroform||Chlorinated water, certain cleaners and disinfectants|
|Chloromethane||Refrigerants, aerosol propellants|
|Cobalt & Cobalt Compounds||Pigments, rubber adhesion promoters|
|Cresol||Disinfectants, resins, wire insulation|
|Cumene||Gasoline, rubber, resins|
|Cyclohexanol||Solvents, oil extraction, textiles|
|Dibutyl Phthalate||PVC plastics, printing inks|
|Dicyclopentadiene||Insecticides, resins, wire insulation|
|Diethanolamine||Textile lubricants, pH adjusters, detergents|
|Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP)||PVC plastics, adhesives, cosmetics|
|Dimethylformamide||Resins, pharmaceuticals, acrylic fibers|
|Epichlorohydrin||Epoxy resins, water treatment chemicals|
What Are the Health Effects of VOCs?
|⚠️ Always contact a medical professional if you experience any symptoms of VOC poisoning.|
Some VOCs are perfectly harmless. Others pose serious health risks. Let’s check out a few symptoms and health effects VOCs can cause.
Irritation of the sinuses and the respiratory system is common.
This can manifest in symptoms such as:
- Itchy or weepy eyes
- Painful sinuses
- A sore or swollen throat
- Shortness of breath
Effects may worsen over time or present immediately. These can include serious issues such as:
- Violent headaches
- Confusion and loss of coordination
VOC exposure can lead to permanent and life-threatening health conditions in worst-case scenarios. These include:
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Damage to the central nervous system
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may have been exposed to malignant VOCs:
- Irritated eyes, sinuses, or throat
- Headaches, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness
- Rashes or skin irritation
- Difficulty breathing
|💡 Pro Tip: If you want to reduce the airborne VOCs in your home, a good air purifier is worth investing in. Air purifiers filter VOCs out of the atmosphere and form a first line of defense against ill effects.|
All homes contain products and items that produce VOCs. These VOCs quickly accumulate — often reaching unsafe levels. Many people experience adverse effects on their health and well-being following prolonged VOC exposure. Consider investing in a suitable air purifier to avoid VOC exposure and prevent illness.
If you think you are suffering from VOC exposure, you should contact a medical professional for immediate assistance.