VOCVolatile Organic Compounds

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TWA: N/A (Time Weighted Average - N/A)

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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapour pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate 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. VOCs are numerous, varied, and everywhere. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are caused by VOCs. VOCs play an important role in communication between plants and messages from plants to animals.

VOC diagram

Some Volatile Organic Compounds are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs (these are VOC’s that are man made that use changes in nature) are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful Volatile Organic Compounds typically are not acutely toxic, but have compounding long-term health effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, research into Volatile Organic Compounds and their effects is difficult.

While most people can smell high levels of some VOCs, other VOCs have no odour. Odour does not indicate the level of risk from inhalation of this group of chemicals. There are thousands of different VOCs produced and used in our daily lives. Some common examples include:

Acetone

Benzene

Ethylene glycol

Formaldehyde

Methylene chloride

Perchloroethylene

Toluene

Xylene

1,3-butadiene

Volatile Organic Compounds find wide use in industry. Every process which involves the manipulation and the production of hydrocarbons emit’s VOC’s.  For example oil refining, solvent release, painting and industrial combustion are some of the many anthropogenic processes that produce VOC’s

IGD’s TOCSIN 102 PID is an ideal first responder used to detect over 400 different VOC’s and gases. This series of detectors find application in chemical processing, laboratories and petrochemical plant providing a first line of safety to monitor Volatile Organic Compounds release.

IGD can help with COSHH risk assessments for specific applications and the design of effective monitoring and detection systems. Call or email your application details to receive help and guidance.

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