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Monitoring volatile hydrocarbons

VOC is the abbreviation for volatile organic compounds (= volatile organic substances). According to the definition of the World Health Organization, VOCs are organic substances with a boiling range of 60 to 250 ° C. The VOCs include e.g. Compounds of the substance groups alkanes / alkenes, aromatics, terpenes, halogenated hydrocarbons, esters, aldehydes and ketones.

Occurrence / Sources
There are a variety of naturally occurring VOCs, some of which are also released into the atmosphere in significant quantities, e.g. Terpene and isoprene from forests.
The environmental impact of VOC caused by human activities has greatly increased in the last century. Transport has the largest share of this, but in second place is the construction sector with its construction chemical products such as: As paints, adhesives or sealants. Possible sources of indoor VOCs include not only building materials but also furnishings, cleaning and care products, hobby and DIY products, office chemicals and above all tobacco smoke. An essential carrier of VOC are carpets. Odor problems caused by VOCs can also be caused microbially by the metabolism of bacteria and fungi.

health hazard
VOCs are important for air quality, especially indoors. The hazard potential of these groups of substances is constantly monitored and further classified by the BGs, since they are a multitude of very different substances, which accordingly have very different effects on health. With the following statements, however, the VOC problem can be outlined:

  • VOC play an important role in the formation of ground-level ozone. Therefore, man-made emission levels should be kept as small as possible.
  • VOCs include some compounds that are classified as highly toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic, such as: benzene used as a gasoline additive or the solvent acetone. Again, it is important to replace such substances as quickly as possible by others who do not bring this danger with it.
  • Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome such as dry mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat are attributed to VOC. In addition, runny nose, eye tears, itching, tiredness, headache, impaired mental performance, increased susceptibility to infections and unpleasant odors and taste sensations were observed.