What Are VOCs?

Sources of VOCs as indoor house with dangerous gases origin outline diagram

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemical compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. They are released into the air as gases emitted from various products and industrial processes. VOCs are typically human-made chemicals that can cause adverse long-term and short-term health effects. Understanding the basics of VOCs, then, can help you stay safe.

Sources of VOCs

There are many sources of VOCs. They can be found indoors, outdoors, in our paint and in our clothing.

Below are just some of the most common sources of VOCs in our everyday environment:

Building Materials

  • Paint and paint strippers
  • Varnishes and finishes
  • Caulks and sealants
  • Carpet
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Composite wood products
  • Upholstery and foam
  • Caulks and sealants

Home & Personal Care Products

  • Furniture
  • Fuel oil/gasoline
  • Cosmetics
  • Deodorant
  • Air fresheners
  • Cleaners and disinfectants
  • Pesticides


  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dry-cleaned clothes
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Office printers and copiers
  • Glue, permanent marker, other arts & crafts products

Health Effects of VOCs

With so many of our products containing VOC, it’s important to understand the health effects they can have. Breathing in VOCs for long periods of time can increase an individual’s risk of health problems. These include the following:

  • Eye, nose, & throat irritation
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Liver & kidney damage (long-term exposure)
  • Central nervous system damage (long-term exposure)
  • Cancer (long-term exposure)

How Can You Protect Yourself?

In order to reduce your exposure to VOCs, you need to know the levels of VOCs in your environment. Axiom Service Professionals can test your environment for VOCs and help you limit your exposure. Contact us today to learn more!