What are “VOC’s”: Volatile Organic Compound Emissions

Volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as “VOCs” are a commonly discussed aspect of green building and healthy homes.

But what are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature.

Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air. For example, formaldehyde, which evaporates from paint, has a boiling point of only –19 °C (–2 °F).

VOCs are numerous and varied. They can include both man made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Many scents or odours are of VOCs. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or can cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are typically regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are known to be highest. Harmful VOCs typically may not be acutely toxic for humans, but have compounding long-term health effects.

Because the concentrations are typically low and the symptoms are slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult.

So even if you have completed a masterful eco wood project, you may still endanger your own health by using coatings and adhesives that emit harmful gases. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) seep into the air in your home or mix with outdoor pollutants to create ground level ozone (smog). When choosing coatings, look for products labelled “Low VOC” with ideally less than 200g/litre of VOC content by weight.

Looking to clad or deck your eco home?

For exterior applications, choose Abodo Protector, which has a low VOC content at 65g/litre by weight.

Just checking you’re heading to the right place

Make sure you get the right information about our carefully crafted timber products by visiting your local Abodo website.