Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs

What are Volatile Organic Compounds?

VOCs are chemical molecules that are gaseous at room temperature.
Because of their gaseous nature, VOCs are not filtered by the respiratory barriers and easily pass through the lungs, bronchial tubes and alveoli into the bloodstream and are distributed throughout the body.

What are the different types of VOCs?

There are several hundred VOCs of natural or synthetic origin. They are classified in different families:
  •     Hydrocarbons are chemical molecules composed only of carbon and hydrogen. They are notably present in fuels.
  •     The aromatic hydrocarbons of the benzene family are formed of one or two aromatic rings. They are present in petroleum products and produced during the combustion process of the material.
  •     Aldehydes and ketones are molecules with a carbon-oxygen double bond. They are naturally present in small quantities in the environment. This class of chemicals is widely used in industry.  Formaldehyde, acetone, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde... belong to this family.
  •     Terpenes are volatile organic substances with an odor. They are naturally present in plants and their extracts (essential oils): limonene, pinene, eucalyptol, linalool, carene, myrcene ... and produced by organic synthesis.   They are widely used in the perfume and household products industry.
  •     Organochlorines are synthetic molecules that include chlorine atoms. They are used as solvents, degreasers, reagents in the synthesis industry (in dyes and pesticides).
  •     Glycol ethers are organic molecules with oxygen atoms. Because of their solubility in water and fats, they are widely used in industry (solvents, degreasers, cleaners ...) and present in many consumer products (paints, inks, varnishes, dyes, glues, adhesives, detergents, window cleaners ...)

What are the effects of VOCs on human health?

VOCs are irritants for the respiratory tract. They are a trigger and aggravating factor of asthma. Some VOCs are carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic (CMR) and/or neurotoxic.
Several VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde are considered particularly worrying by the health authorities. Thus, they are measured in particular in the indoor air of buildings.
In France, the monitoring of indoor air quality has been mandatory since 2018 in establishments open to the public (ERP) for children (day care centers, nursery and elementary schools, colleges and high schools).

How to evaluate your exposure to VOCs?

The EXPOZOM Air analysis kit allows you to make a complete assessment of your exposure to VOCs.
  •     To measure personal exposure to ambient air pollution by VOCs, the passive sensors are worn on the person for a period of 7 consecutive days.
  •     For an occupational exposure measurement, the passive sensors are exposed for a period of 8 hours either on a support or worn on a person.
The analysis of the sensors is carried out in a certified laboratory and allows to know precisely the level of exposure.

What are the main sources of domestic exposure to VOCs?

In the home and office environment, VOCs come mainly from renovation and decoration materials (paint, varnish, glue, etc.), furniture, household products, fuels and perfumes.

"The indoor air of buildings is 5 to 10 times more polluted by VOCs than the outdoor air"

In professional, industrial, agricultural or craft environments, the use of solvents and chemicals including VOCs is very common.

How to prevent occupational exposure to VOCs?

Handling chemicals, applying or using solvents or working in an environment contaminated by solvent vapors exposes operators and employees to VOCs that are harmful to their health.

The exposure of employees working in offices near production areas is often overlooked even though it may pose health risks.

Preventing occupational exposure requires, on the one hand, knowing the composition of the chemicals used to identify the VOCs at risk to health and, on the other hand, carrying out measurement campaigns to assess the actual level of exposure during a working day. The results are then compared to the Occupational Exposure Limit Values (OEL) determined for 8 hours of exposure (OEL - Mean Exposure Value).


"The monitoring of occupational exposure to VOCs is an obligation for the employer"

The EXPOZOM Air analysis kits allow to measure the most dangerous VOCs for the health of the employees.

The results are used to evaluate the level of exposure and to set up actions to limit exposure in order to prevent occupational diseases.

What are the carcinogenic VOCs measured with the EXPOZOM Air analysis kits?

The WHO has established a list of carcinogenic VOC. EXPOZOM allows to measure the most dangerous VOC for health.














Vinyl chloride


Dichloromethane (Methylene chloride)








Carbon tetrachloride










Methyl isobutyl ketone



Air Analysis

Measurement of the exposure to chemical agents contained in the air we breathe. Order your Test

Analysis of occupational exposure to Aldehyde and Ketones

Measurement of air quality in the workplace by analysis in a certified laboratory. Order your Test

Analysis of VOC in the air of workplaces

Measurement of air quality in the workplace by analysis in a certified laboratory. Order your Test