Indoor Environmental Specialists
Welcome to Environmental Diagnostics Corporation (EDC). Managing indoor environments is easier with the proper documentation from experienced professionals. Our highly commended proactive, reactive, and mold assessments, cutting edge sampling methods, and interpretative tools make EDC a leader in the industry.

What are the sources of VOCs?
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are any organic compounds that evaporate or "outgas" at typical ambient temperatures. There are thousands of chemicals classified as VOCs that are widely used in building materials, carpeting, furniture, and office products. These chemicals are common ingredients in paints, varnishes, waxes, cleaning solutions, disinfectants, degreasers, fuels, solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, perfumes, and dry cleaning products. Most airborne VOCs, being odiferous, are often related to specific and non-specific odor complaints within buildings. They can also be significant contributors to illness in sensitive building occupants.

What are the health effects of VOCs?
Product outgassing can cause VOC concentrations to persist in the indoor air for an extended period. Factors that affect indoor concentrations and therefore the degree of exposure, include: ventilation exchange rates, temperature, humidity, and the characteristics of the source itself.
Eye and respiratory tract irritation, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the health symptoms that have been associated with VOC exposure. While industrial exposure to individual VOCs is well documented, the relationship of trace concentrations of a mixture of VOCs in non-industrial environments is less understood. Since a synergistic effect of multiple compounds eludes researchers, a causal relationship to health problems has not been scientifically established, but is generally recognized.

What VOC regulations and guidelines exist for non-industrial indoor environments?
Standards applicable to individual VOCs are based on significant levels found in industrial or manufacturing situations. Due to the epidemiological complexity of "synergistic health effects" and the lack of jurisdictional authority (relating to non-industrial indoor environments) there are no governmental standards regulating trace VOC concentrations. Instead, the high demand for documenting trace indoor VOC levels, especially when dealing with complaint or health situations, stems from an occupant relations and/or a litigious due-diligence need -- not to mention the desire to insure a healthy working environment.

How do you reduce VOC levels?
While VOC concentrations can be found in every indoor environment, the ultimate goal is to keep those concentrations at an acceptable level, below which the majority of the population is not likely to experience health-related problems.
Ideally, the first step is to prevent the introduction of VOCs. This involves foresight and planning prior to renovation or full building construction. Reducing exposure to existing VOCs can involve one or more of the following: increasing the outside air volume, boosting exhaust, temporary re-location of building occupants, or installing carbon or potassium permanganate filter systems. Using products, which contain VOCs such as paints or solvents, according to manufacturers specifications can reduce the concentration of the compounds available to the environment. VOC remediation by heated "bake-outs" are controversial and should be properly timed prior to the installation of "sinks" (materials that absorb VOCs) which can cause extended outgassing after a "bake-out".

Federal regulation covering VOC content in paints and other products went into effect the Fall of 1999. This regulation is certain to affect litigious action with respect to indoor air quality. Property managers should be prepared to insure that renovation contractors abide by this regulation.

What sampling options are available?
As with any contaminant, there are several methods of sampling available for a particular compound or group of compounds. A VOC "screening" can involve a qualitative measurement (no specific concentrations) which detects the total elevated concentrations of numerous VOCs. This economical screening method is acceptable in many building investigations where no significant complaints have been noted and the objective is a proactive assessment. A more intensive VOC sampling methodology (EPA method T017 - thermal desorption) and analysis (GC/MS) provides specific concentrations for identified VOCs as well as a total VOC level. This information is helpful in the investigation of a related complaint or the establishment of a baseline prior to a construction or renovation project.

When should VOC sampling be conducted?
Sampling and documenting VOC concentrations, as well as other indoor air quality indicators, helps demonstrate that occupant and employee health is a top priority, especially when complaints or health concerns warrant. Additionally, renovation activity, printing processes, or placement of new furnishings may warrant due-diligence sampling.

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Environmental Diagnostics Corp.2013