Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Definition - What does Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) mean?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) refer to organic compounds that are volatile, i.e. have high vapor pressure at normal temperature. VOCs are available in varied conditions. They are numerous and ubiquitous. Origins of VOCs can be industrial, home or even nature.

VOCs are contained in many industrial products, petrochemicals and refrigerants. They are also used in corrosion protection coatings, solvents and thinner. They are toxic to human health. VOCs also causes ozone depletion and smog.

Corrosionpedia explains Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that are emitted as gases from certain chemicals. These chemicals have a high vapor pressure and low boiling point. As a result, large numbers of molecules form on the compound to evaporate and enter the atmosphere. Formaldehyde, a VOC, evaporates from paint. Its boiling point is only –19 °C (–2 °F).

The human-made chemicals that use and produce VOCs are:

  • Paints, adhesives
  • Petroleum products,
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Refrigerants

VOCs are also compounds of paint thinners, solvents, hydraulic fluids and dry-cleaning agents. They contaminate drinking water supplies, which may cause human carcinogens.

VOCs are emitted during fuel combustion processes and also the firing of wood, carbon, natural gas, plastic compounds and additives in industrial processes. Most bad odors or good scents are from VOCs.

VOC products should stockpile in well-ventilated areas. The VOC concentration in an indoor environment during winter is three times higher than during the summer. High concentrations of indoor VOCs are causing the low rates of air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environment. This creates tight-shut windows and an increase in the use of humidifiers.

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