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Indoor air quality is an important subject when dealing with workplaces. Many people who do manufacturing or other industrial work find themselves up close and personal with microscopic health hazards, such as heavy metals in fumes or toxic compounds. One of those classes of compounds are VOCs.
So what are VOCs, and how can you protect against them? Let’s dive in.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic compounds that are noted by their low boiling point. These are substances that disperse their molecules into the air due to pressure and temperature changes. This is different from particulate matter, which is usually low amounts of solid material in air, or fumes, which are produced from high temperatures.
VOCs are everywhere. They exist in nature but they’re much more common as ingredients in common household and industrial products. Paints, solvents, magic markets, glues, gasoline, and many other common products that you and I use everyday release VOCs into the air we breathe.
They’re typically noted by their odor. Think about the smell of gasoline, or what you smell when you open a can of paint for the first time. What you are smelling is VOCs as they disperse into the air. Although some of these smells might seem pleasant, it’s best to avoid them.
In short, VOCs represent a health hazard to humans and animals, as well as an environmental hazard. Workspaces that use solvents, paints, various types of fuel, paints, and many more can put workers at risk for VOC exposure.
Humans that are exposed to VOCs can experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and irritation of the eyes, nose or mouth.
The key to removing VOCs from the air indoors is proper ventilation installation. On their own, high-efficiency particulate filters cannot eliminate VOCs from the air as they only target particulate matter. However, one solution is to pair those with molecular filtration solutions, such as those with activated carbon. Activated carbon filters can help remove VOCs from indoor air, improving indoor air quality overall.
Indoor air quality can also be controlled. Hoods, exhaust ductwork, and emission control equipment for pre-regulation production equipment can help your workspace deal with VOCs. Special roofing can help reduce asphalt fumes, VOCs and fine fiberglass dust from workspace air. Metal tubing/conduit plants can help remove VOCs from process lines as well.