makey-icon
a volatile organic compound label on the back of a paint can

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/4/2021

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found everywhere, including throughout homes in things such as flooring, paint, and even furniture. These days, many companies are introducing measures to reduce or eliminate VOCs from all sorts of household products, as worries grow over their potential dangers.

Definition

The term volatile organic compound (VOC) refers to both man-made and naturally occurring organic chemical compounds that easily evaporate into the air due to their low boiling points (a process known as off gassing). More commonly, VOCs are found in various chemical products in and around our homes, such as the glues that hold composite wood together and the paints and finishes on our walls and furniture. Some volatile organic compounds are harmless, while others can be extremely dangerous to people, animals, and the environment, especially in high concentrations.

How To Reduce Levels Of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found in many common household items and supplies. There are certain things you can do if you’d like to reduce your exposure to VOCs around the home. Here are just a few tips:

  • Inspect your home for potential sources of VOCs. Ensure old paint cans, adhesives, and other chemicals are stored properly or disposed of when not being used.
  • When purchasing new products and supplies for the home, look for items that contain low or zero amounts of VOCs. Nowadays, there are many green products available that are designed to be safer for people, animals, and the environment.
beta