Green Term Defined: Volatile Organic Compounds


We hear about Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) all the time in marketing of paint. That new paint smell that we have suffered through for years in the construction industry, well it turns out, is not good for you. Who would have thought all those air fresheners we added to our cars in the 90’s to get a new car smell was emulating chemical off gassing that is potentially causing us to get sick. The same off-gassing in cars happens in new homes.

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A volatile organic compound is a chemical offgassing of a man made product. It has been shown in studies that breathing these chemicals has the potential of causing cancer. While these studies have been conclusive, it is still unclear to many of us in the industry what the real health impacts are and how the new products are impacting our bodies. Of course avoiding anything that has been shown to be harmful is virtually impossible – watching television, using the microwave, breathing…, using products that have reduced or removed VOC is clearly better for your health. The warning is that you need to do careful research for a replacement product to make sure it will be durable and meet the intended goal.

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