Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many
household products; examples of VOCs include acetone, formaldehyde,
xylene, and toluene. Exposure to volatile organic compounds may
cause symptoms such as headaches; nausea; and eye, nose, and throat
Products that may contain
volatile organic compounds include:
New furniture and carpets.
Paints, paint strippers, and other
Wood preservatives, hobby supplies, and dry-cleaned
Aerosol sprays, cleansers, and
Moth repellents and air fresheners.
Volatile organic compounds may cause serious symptoms, such
as loss of coordination, liver damage, and damage to the central nervous
system. Some volatile organic compounds are suspected to cause cancer in humans
and are known to cause cancer in animals.
The level and length of
exposure to volatile organic compounds determine the health effects.
Controlling exposure or only using household products with adequate fresh-air
ventilation may prevent serious health effects.
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
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