The health effects depend on the specific composition of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present, their concentration and the length of exposure. General effects of exposure to VOCs include: irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals, and some are suspected or are known to cause cancer in humans. Build up of VOCs in indoor environments have been associated with 'sick building syndrome'.
Entering the body
TVOCs are present as a gas or vapour and can enter the body by inhalation.
Exposure to TVOCs occurs by breathing contaminated air. TVOCs may build up in indoor environments as a result of the greater number of sources and lower rates of ventilation.
Workplace exposure: TVOCs are a group of compounds. Workplace exposure standards exist for individual substances, but not for the group.
Australian drinking water guidelines: No drinking water guidelines have been established for TVOCs.
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