volatile organic compounds

Understanding volatile organic compounds

In our daily lives we encounter numerous substances that affect the quality of the air we breathe; volatile organic compounds make up the bulk of urban and indoor pollution.

What are volatile organic compounds?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are a heterogeneous group of chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature.

Sources of Volatile Organic Compounds pollution in indoor air are diverse and affect somewhat all household objects and activities: primarily construction and furnishing materials (whose emissions linger for years), cosmetic or deodorizing products, cigarette smoke, cleaning materials and various products (e.g., glues, adhesives, solvents, paints), recently processed clothes in the laundry, heating devices, printers and copiers.

VOCs are also present in outdoor environments from vehicle exhausts, industrial emissions and natural sources such as vegetation. Among the most dangerous, from a toxicological and mutagenic point of view, is formaldehyde.

Health effects of VOCs

Exposure to high concentrations of VOCs can have harmful effects on human health. Short-term exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness and nausea. In the long term, VOCs have been linked to respiratory problems, allergies, neurological disorders and even some cancers. Some groups, such as children, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions, may be more sensitive to the effects of VOCs.

Photocatalytic filtration for VOC abatement.

Photocatalytic filtration is a photochemical reaction in which a catalyst (titanium dioxide) irradiated by light, decomposes pollutants in whose composition carbon is present.

It is one of the best methods of air purification because it does not just filter out pollutants (in the traditional sense of “holding back”), but destroys them and, therefore, manages to be effective even against substances that are too small to be physically blocked by a filter, such as, for example, odors.

TiO2 Photocatalytic Filtration

In addition, titanium dioxide possesses recognized bactericidal characteristics, and therefore, titanium dioxide photocatalytic filters are also highly effective in removing airborne viruses and bacteria (in this regard, please refer to
“the bactericidal power of titanium dioxide”
).

VOC List

VOCs make up the bulk of urban and indoor pollution, however, if there are specific filtration needs related to one or more specific pollutants, it can be clarified whether photocatalytic filtration is the appropriate solution by consulting the complete list of volatile organic compounds  at this link , or by visiting  this page  of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA).

Learn more about how DEPUREX's photocatalytic filters can help you break down volatile organic compounds, odors, indoor pollution, and air emissions.
Picture of Stefano Marini

Stefano Marini

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Depurex progetta e produce filtri fotocatalitici trattati al biossido di titanio per l’abbattimento di composti organici volatili, di cattivi odori e la sanificazione dell’aria da virus e batteri.