VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
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Organic chemical compounds1 are everywhere in both indoor and outdoor environments because they have become essential ingredients in many products and materials.
VOCs are of concern as both indoor air pollutants and as outdoor air pollutants. However, the emphasis of that concern outdoors is different from indoors. The main concern indoors is the potential for VOCs to adversely impact the health of people that are exposed. While VOCs can also be a health concern outdoors, EPA regulates VOCs outdoors mainly because of their ability to create photochemical smog under certain conditions.
Although the same term “VOC” is used for both indoor and outdoor air quality, the term is defined differently to reflect its predominant concern in each context. This has created a misunderstanding in the marketplace and in the environmental community. In addition, the measured quantity and composition of VOCs in the air can vary significantly depending on the measurement methods used, which has generated additional confusion.