Definition, Sources and Health Effects of TVOC and How Do We Reduce Exposure To It
What is TVOC?
"Total volatile organic compounds" as the group of compounds are not generally used. TVOC is a grouping of a wide range of organic chemical compounds to simplify reporting when these are present in ambient air or emissions. Many substances, such as natural gas, could be classified as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are reserved for characterisation of such substances in polluted air, that is, VOCs generally refer to vapours of gases given off by compounds rather than the liquid phase.
What is the Source Of TVOC?
Household products, including:
- paints, paint strippers and other solvents
- wood preservatives
- aerosol sprays
- cleansers and disinfectants
- moth repellents and air fresheners
- stored fuels and automotive products
- hobby supplies
- dry-cleaned clothing
Other products, including:
- building materials and furnishings
- office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper
- graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions.
What are the health effects of TVOC?
To understand the need to take volatile organic compounds seriously, it’s important to know the adverse health effects they can have. Short-term exposure to can be detected from the presence of the following symptoms:
- Irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract
- Visual disorders and memory impairment
Think about being stuck in traffic for so long that you get a headache. That’s due to increased benzene exposure. Or if you feel light headed after painting in an enclosed area, know this is a physical response to higher than normal VOC exposure.
However, exposure to in high concentrations and for extended periods of time can have longer term health effects, such as:
- Prolonged eye, nose and throat irritation
- Chronic headaches as well as loss of coordination and chronic nausea
- Liver, kidney and central nervous system damage
- Some types of cancer. Cancer is caused by a confluence of factors, but there is evidence that over-exposure to some VOCs can increase the chances of contracting cancer.
How to reduce exposure to indoor TVOC?
- Increase ventilation when using products that emit TVOC.
- Meet or exceed any label precautions.
- Do not store opened containers of unused paints and similar materials within the school.
- If not possible to remove, reduce exposure by using a sealant on all exposed surfaces of paneling and other furnishings.
- Use household products according to manufacturer's directions.
- Make sure you provide plenty of fresh air when using these products.
- Throw away unused or little-used containers safely.
- Keep out of reach of children and pets.
- Never mix household care products unless directed on the label.