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The Importance of VOC Testing

Written by: Mold Busters 655 Richmond Rd., Suite#29, Ottawa, Ontario, K2A3Y3 Website: http://bustmold.com Every day, we are surrounded by thousands of products that give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) without ever even realizing it. The daily cosmetics women love using, our favourite perfumes and air fresheners, the addictive smell of newly painted walls—these are all everyday items that are alarmingly hazardous to our health. Why? They all emit VOCs. In fact, in a typical home, the objects surrounding us—carpets, furniture, household products—are all sources of toxic VOCs. What are volatile organic compounds? Organic compounds are chemicals containing carbon. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are organic compounds that contain hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulphur, or nitrogen along with carbon. What makes them special is the fact that they evaporate easily at room temperature. This particular characteristic of VOCs allows many indoor objects (air fresheners, furnishings, building materials like paint, varnish, and glues) to emit VOCs into the air.

Acetone, benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, toluene, xylene, 1, 3-butadiene are some of the most common examples of VOCs. Sources of VOCs

VOCs can be both man-made as well as naturally occurring. Building materials like paint and adhesives, composite wood products, carpets, solvents, upholstery fabrics, vinyl floors, varnishes, sealants, and caulking emit VOCs. Home and personal care products like air fresheners, perfumes, cosmetics, cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, fuel and gasoline, moth balls, electronic equipment, dry-cleaning fluids and dry-cleaned fabrics, pesticide application, plastic products, wax, and newspapers all give off VOCs. Everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, burning wood stoves, burning fuel like wood, coal, natural gas or gasoline, and painting all emit VOCs. Research conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other organizations reveals that VOC levels are much higher indoors—two to one thousand times higher—than outdoors. Furthermore, there can be anywhere between fifty and several hundred VOCs indoors at any given time.


While some of them have strong odours, others can be odourless. Concentrations of VOCs indoors are related to the following factors:     

amount of VOCs in a product VOC emission rate volume of the indoor air rate of ventilation of the area concentration of VOCs outdoors

Why get VOC testing?

In high concentration, some VOCs become toxic. Exposure to them often leads to mild to serious health hazards in exposed individuals.

VOCs are termed “irritants” because they have been known to cause headaches, skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, dizziness, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, and visual disorders. Some chronic diseases like worsening of asthma symptoms, kidney, liver and central nervous system damage, memory loss, loss of coordination, and even cancer can be the result of long-term exposure to certain VOCs. Certain groups like people with respiratory problems such as asthma and high sensitivity to chemicals or children and elderly people are also more vulnerable to VOC exposure.

The following is a list of factors that determine the severity of symptoms:   

how much VOCs are in the indoor air composition of the VOCs present in the indoor air how long and how often a person has been exposed to VOCs (hours, days, weeks, years, and in extreme cases, a lifetime)

Repeated occurrence of any of the above-mentioned symptoms in occupants of a home is a good sign that professional VOC testing is needed.

A gradual accumulation of VOCs indoors has often been associated with a condition known as “Sick Building Syndrome.”


VOCs like benzene and toluene, which are considered toxic, are often found in Canadian homes. These pollutants, when present in high levels, are a major concern for human health.

The dangers posed by VOCs, however, cannot be identified simply by the presence of an odour. There are many odourless VOCs that are capable of causing harmful health effects. That’s why VOC testing is so essential. Often, people have no idea that they are breathing in VOCs because they can’t smell anything. As such, professional VOC testing is the safest and most accurate way of finding out if you have high levels of VOCs in your home. VOC testing is particularly helpful as a precautionary step before purchasing a new home as it provides assurance regarding the materials used in the home’s construction.

VOC testing is similar to indoor air quality (IAQ) testing, where a sample of air is taken from the suspected area and analyzed by an accredited lab. This helps identify any VOCs present in the space and the concentrations in which they are found.

Although do-it-yourself VOC test kits are available, they are not very accurate or reliable. Sometimes, they give false readings of total volatile organic compound (TVOC), and they will never help get rid of the problem entirely. A professional inspection, on the other hand, allows you to fix the problem by identifying the sources of the VOCs and identifying a possible remediation strategy.

Many reliable and experienced companies in Canada offer indoor air quality and VOC testing. Mold Busters, Canada’s leader in air quality testing and remediation, has been providing fast and professional VOC testing services to its clients for over five years.

Don’t wait and allow the problem to grow out of control. Contact the professionals at Mold Busters to ensure a safe and healthy environment in your home.

Summary: Unknowingly, we are surrounded by numerous objects at our homes and offices that emit volatile organic compounds or VOCs into the indoor air. Many VOCs are toxic and inhaling them often causes mild to serious health hazards in the victims. So, getting your indoors professionally VOC tested is necessary for healthy living.


About author: Andrey Golubev is known as one of the finest mold removal experts in Canada and a great author over mold. He is being associated with Mold Busters since 2005. Click here to get author’s Books.


The Importance of VOC Testing