Volatile organic compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a wide range of carbon-based molecules (organic compounds) used in many products that find their way into our homes. Under normal conditions, they vaporize, effectively leaving their host and entering the air where they combine with other airborne compounds to form ozone. VOCs are most well-known for the harm they can cause indoors, where they can be introduced via paint, carpets, furnishings, and cleaning agents.
 Why should I be aware of this?
VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Formaldehyde, used in many glues and adhesives, is one of the best known VOCs, and associated with cancer. The most common volatile organic compound is methane, which comes from everything from garbage to rice agriculture.
 Volatile organic compound and health
Effects of VOCs on the body are:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Loss of coordination
- Damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
- Some organics may cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
 All about volatile organic compound
VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, 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.
Household products that release VOCs include wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleaners and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry-cleaned clothing.
 What can I do?
- Ensure good ventilation, especially when using products that emit VOCs.
- Meet or exceed any label precautions.
- Do not store opened containers of unused paints and similar materials within the school.
- Use integrated pest management techniques to reduce the need for pesticides.
- Throw away unused or little-used containers safely; buy in quantities that you will use soon.
- Keep out of reach of children and pets.
- Never mix household care products unless directed on the label.
- Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors.
- During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels!
- Tree Hugger