Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemical compounds that easily evaporate from their solid form into the air due to their high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. For example, formaldehyde, one of the most common VOCs, evaporates at only -19°C. VOCs exist within many common building materials and within other items within the home such as furniture, and because products and materials containing VOCs are constantly off-gassing VOCs in the background without any need for encouragement, they could be described as stealth pollutants. While many VOCs have fairly low levels of toxicity and the amounts of VOCs emitted from products and materials tends to decrease over time, there is growing concern regarding the potential compounding harmful health effects long-term exposure to VOCs within the home. Because the concentrations are usually low and symptoms are slow to develop, research into VOCs and their health effects is difficult, however the health effects include: eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

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