What are VOCs?

Volatile Organic compounds are chemicals that both vaporize into air and dissolve in water, having a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. VOCs typically are industrial solvents, such as trichloroethyene, fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); or by-products produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform. VOCs are often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry-cleaning agents.

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (u to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. 

Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. 

Show All Answers

1. What are some sources of VOCs?
2. Does EPA regulate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in household products?
3. Does reverse osmosis remove VOCs?
4. Are VOCs dangerous?
5. What are VOCs?
6. Where does Maui water come from?
7. What is the pH of my water?
8. Do I have hard or soft water?
9. What causes occasional taste and odor changes in Maui water?
10. Why is chlorine added to the water?
11. What should I do once the boil water advisory is lifted in my area?
12. Is it safe to do laundry during a boil water advisory?
13. How long will the boil water advisory remain in effect?
14. I have heard that you need to boil water longer than 1 minute, is that true?
15. How do I care for my garden and houseplants during a boil water advisory?
16. Food preparation during a boil water advisory?
17. How do I care for my pets during a boil water advisory?
18. Is it safe to wash dishes during a boil water advisory?
19. Is it safe to bath and/or shower during a boil water advisory?
20. Is Maui County's drinking water really safe?
21. Why does my water look milky sometimes?
22. How much water does an average residential customer use in a month?
23. Where can I get more information about lead in Upcountry residential plumbing and what is the DWS doing about it?
24. Why do we have droughts Upcountry?
25. I live in Upper Kula. What are chloramines and how can they affect me?
26. I recall receiving notices about the water quality in Upcountry Maui, but I haven't seen one in a long time. What happened to those notices?
27. How do I find out information about wastewater reuse/reclamation (recycled water)?
28. How do I find out more information about wastewater?