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Volatile Organic Compounds in School - Essay Example

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Volatile Organic Compounds in School Table of Contents I. Introduction 3 II. Volatile Organic Compounds - Prevalence 4 III. Volatile Organic Compounds in Schools 6 Works Cited 9 I. Introduction This paper discusses volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in schools…
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Download file to see previous pages VOCs, as the name suggests are carbon compounds that lend themselves to becoming gases or vapors with relative ease. As such they are emitted in the surrounding environment. VOCs contain not just carbon, but a host of other common elements present in such compounds, including the following: sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, bromine, nitrogen, fluorine (US National Library of Medicine). The relative ease with which they are released into the atmosphere is attributed to the low boiling points of VOCs, pegged at below 100 degrees Celsius, lending them to be easily released into the atmosphere as gases. Many of the VOCs in the environment are said to be manufactured by man, as chemicals that are in use in manufacturing. Paints, refrigerants, pharmaceutical chemicals, adhesives, products derived from petroleum, and several other products require VOCs for their manufacture. Most often they are located in urban areas, making up the constituents of agents for dry cleaning, thinners for paint, solvents, and different kinds of fuels (US Geological Survey) The literature further notes that in urban places, VOCs are of greater concentration, and within that urban setting, VOC concentrations are almost always of greater magnitude in enclosed indoor environments as compared to outside environments, where VOCs tend to disperse into the greater atmosphere (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Meanwhile, the adverse health effects of short-run and long-run exposure to VOCs are well documented in the literature. They include asthma symptoms being aggravated, dizziness, skin, nose, eyes and throat irritation, vomiting, cancer, impairment of the nervous system, and damage to internal organs, notably the liver and the kidney. Differing VOC types also have other specific adverse effects on human health. Benzene, a common VOC, is of special focus among health experts, for their prevalence, and for their known highly carcinogenic properties (Minnesota Department of Health; US National Library of Medicine). II. Volatile Organic Compounds - Prevalence VOCs are more prevalent than is sometimes acknowledged, owing to their presence in a wide variety of manufactured products, and the wide use of such manufactured products in urban environments. This puts an increased risk of toxic harm to human beings living in urban areas. The list in the Introduction is non-exhaustive, and to it can be added a large number of products that people may or may not already associate with VOCs: furnishings for buildings, materials for buildings, printers and copiers present in the office, copy paper not containing carbon, correction fluid, adhesives, glues, markers, solutions used in photography, pesticides, materials used for cleaning, strippers of paint, lacquers and other paints (United States Environmental Protection Agency). In the home, meanwhile, it is hard to avoid VOCs as well, largely because they are incorporated into many of the products that are vital to the maintenance of households. As already mentioned above, materials that are used to make houses contain VOCs, which later escape into the air, both indoors and into the greater outside environment. Cosmetic products of all kinds, materials used by hobbyists of all kinds, waxes, paints, and the varnishings commonly applied to home furniture all contain volatile organic compounds. Of course all sorts of fuels vital to maintaining homes all contain volat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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