Volatile organic compounds, or VOC, are substances that are found in many common consumer and industrial products. They are also considered hazardous to humans. Industries such as painting contractors are required to follow VOC regulations that have been established to protect the environment in which humans live and work.

A VOC gets its name from the fact that the element, whether in the form of a solid, liquid or gas, has certain volatile characteristics. Specifically, the main body of the substance has particles that are constantly trying to escape into the atmosphere, even at normal temperatures.

One example of a VOC is formaldehyde, which will actually boil in sub-freezing temperatures. Although some VOC substances are found in nature, others are manufactured, such as paint products containing glycol ether and the cleaning solvent acetone. Other products containing VOC elements include chlorofluorocarbons, which have been widely used in refrigerants; benzene, used in the production of plastics and resins; methylene chloride, a substance found in cleaning agents, and perchloroethylene, which is used for dry cleaning clothes. Gasoline produces VOC when burned in internal combustion engines. The threat to humans posed by these compounds can also come from less obvious sources, such as furnishings, wall coverings and even office equipment.

Although most VOC elements may not be directly toxic, they can represent a long-term threat to humans, causing cancer and other diseases years after exposure to them. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the regulation of VOC substances, whether they be on land or in the air or water.

VOC regulations are designed to protect humans from compounds that are emitted into the air, into sewer systems and storm drains, or can be found in landfills or even in normal living environments, from office buildings to apartments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration division of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for the regulation of VOC exposure that may occur in the workplace. Compounds that are classified as hazardous materials will fall under the regulation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Requirements have been established as to how VOC products are to be used and stored. A number of requirements pertain specifically to their disposal. Painting contractors may be limited as to the type or amount of a particular product that can be used. As these guidelines can vary between states and regions, business owners are advised to contact the regional EPA office for specific details. Information may also be available from the local branch of the Small Business Administration.

Regulations can be annoying to individuals and businesses, but are important in the protection of employees and the public in general. They can also help bring about reforms. In combination with environmental concerns, regulations have led many industries to shift away from products containing VOC and toward solvents that are water-based.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOC, are substances that are found in many common consumer and industrial products. They are also considered hazardous to humans. Industries such as painting contractors are required to follow VOC regulations that have been established to protect the environment in which humans live and work.

A VOC gets its name from the fact that the element, whether in the form of a solid, liquid or gas, has certain volatile characteristics. Specifically, the main body of the substance has particles that are constantly trying to escape into the atmosphere, even at normal temperatures.

One example of a VOC is formaldehyde, which will actually boil in sub-freezing temperatures. Although some VOC substances are found in nature, others are manufactured, such as paint products containing glycol ether and the cleaning solvent acetone. Other products containing VOC elements include chlorofluorocarbons, which have been widely used in refrigerants; benzene, used in the production of plastics and resins; methylene chloride, a substance found in cleaning agents, and perchloroethylene, which is used for dry cleaning clothes. Gasoline produces VOC when burned in internal combustion engines. The threat to humans posed by these compounds can also come from less obvious sources, such as furnishings, wall coverings and even office equipment.

Although most VOC elements may not be directly toxic, they can represent a long-term threat to humans, causing cancer and other diseases years after exposure to them. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the regulation of VOC substances, whether they be on land or in the air or water.

VOC regulations are designed to protect humans from compounds that are emitted into the air, into sewer systems and storm drains, or can be found in landfills or even in normal living environments, from office buildings to apartments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration division of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for the regulation of VOC exposure that may occur in the workplace. Compounds that are classified as hazardous materials will fall under the regulation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Requirements have been established as to how VOC products are to be used and stored. A number of requirements pertain specifically to their disposal. Painting contractors may be limited as to the type or amount of a particular product that can be used. As these guidelines can vary between states and regions, business owners are advised to contact the regional EPA office for specific details. Information may also be available from the local branch of the Small Business Administration.

Regulations can be annoying to individuals and businesses, but are important in the protection of employees and the public in general. They can also help bring about reforms. In combination with environmental concerns, regulations have led many industries to shift away from products containing VOC and toward solvents that are water-based.

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