A VOC, or volatile organic compound, is emitted as gas from certain liquids or solids. Some of the most common products that contain VOCs are paints, finishes, dyes, and varnishes. VOCs come from a variety of chemicals and can have adverse health effects on the environment and people. VOCs cause air pollution and smog. They also play a role in the deterioration of the ozone layer. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to reduce VOC emissions.
Reducing VOC emissions requires forming healthy habits that will eliminate the presence of the chemical in the air and reduce chronic exposure. Individuals should avoid using aerosol consumer products to reduce VOC emissions. This would include air fresheners, air sprays, and deodorants. This is a fairly easy step to take because many of these products come in non-aerosol forms such as gels, roll-ons, or pumps.
Air fresheners should also be eliminated. There is mounting health evidence that spray and plug-in air fresheners are a major source of VOCs. Air fresheners emit ultra-fine particles and chemicals that are hazardous to the respiratory system and environment.
When buying paints, people should also be mindful of VOCs. Consumers can reduce VOC emissions by avoiding paints with labels that clearly indicate VOC limits are high. Switching to water-based paint is also useful. If a person finds that he or she must buy a VOC product, it should never be bought in bulk. Stored chemicals can emit VOCs even if the container or package is tightly sealed. These types of chemicals should also be placed as far away from living areas as possible.
Advocating the reduction of VOCs in car manufacturers is also essential. Automobile manufactures contribute large amounts of VOCs. Air pollution advocacy is one way to possibly cut down on these emissions. Driving less and using public transportation can also help.
Many governments around the world are taking action to reduce VOC emissions. For example, the Canadian Government and the Canadian Minister of the Environment announced in September 2009 that the country would being drafting regulations to reduce VOCs in the environment. In December 2009, world leaders united to fight climate change and the reduction of VOCs was also on the international agenda.
VOC emission reduction must occur on a large scale. Both manufacturers as well as every day people can take steps to reduce VOC emissions and limit the harm volatile organic compounds cause to the environment and climate.