Volatile organic compounds (VOC)

Air measurements, odours, solvents, vehicle emissions, formaldehyde.

VOC (volatile organic compounds)

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) is generally used as the collective term for a great number of individual substances which are defined by various physical and chemical properties. However, the pattern of these substances with regard to their occurrence in interior spaces, their technical function and their toxic and irritative properties is completely heterogeneous.

In terms of indoor air pollution, solvents represent the most significant group of substances, and these are found a great number of products. In addition to solvents from the petrochemical industry, materials from plant-based substances, such as turpentine, are now playing an increasingly large role again. Other groups of substances include volatile fuel components or general VOCs from vehicle emissions (benzene, etc.) which can penetrate interior spaces. Volatile compounds from building materials can be found in interior spaces, as can volatile substances that are released during food preparation (acetic acid, esters, etc.). Products from incomplete combustion (cigarette smoke) or the release of VOCs from bacteria or mould formation in refuse (see MVOC) also play a role in indoor air pollution, as well as other substances not mentioned here.

Measurement of VOCs in indoor air by APC

Sampling using activated carbon tube in accordance with NIOSH, sampling duration of 2 hours

If the measurement is to provide more precise information about the possible sources and the structural and organisational conditions are suitable, the room in question should be aired 6-8 hours in advance and then be kept closed (windows, doors, air conditioning switched off). Wherever possible, measurements that are to be taken in working operations, e.g. in office rooms, should be carried out at a time when irritations are reported.

In addition to the purely analytical data, the measurement report also contains explanations relating to the detected substances and their concentration levels. The correct interpretation of the measurement results with regard to the possible sources and the associated complaints possibly caused by the detected substances usually requires many years of experience in the field, which is where we come in.