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Rev Environ Health. 2007 Jan-Mar;22(1):39-55.

Volatile organic compounds: do they present a risk to our health?

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  • 1School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Perth WA 6845, Australia.


Indoor air quality has been recognised as a significant health, environment, and economic issue in many countries. Research findings have demonstrated that some air pollutants occur more frequently and at a higher concentration in indoor air than in outdoor air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In this context, the indoor environment can be of crucial importance because modem society spends most of their time indoors, and exposure to VOCs may result in a spectrum of illnesses ranging from mild, such as irritation, to very severe effects, including cancer. These effects have been seen at very low levels of exposure in many epidemiological studies. In this review, we discuss the nature of the VOCs that are ubiquitous in indoor environment and the evidence for adverse health effects associated with exposure to some of these compounds.

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