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What’s a VOC and Why Should You Care?

Written By Amber Breeden

October 26, 2021

If you’ve ever purchased paint for a DIY project, you’re probably familiar with the term “low VOC.” But do you really know what it means? What actually is a VOC, and why should you care?

VOCs are volatile organic compounds that easily evaporate into the air. They’re found in thousands of everyday products, including chlorinated drinking water, many household, cleaning, and cosmetic items, pesticides, inks, fuel, building materials, glue, markers, and, yes, paint. While VOCs are found both indoors and outdoors, they tend to be more concentrated indoors. Over time, and in large concentrations, VOCs can be harmful to our health and the environment. 

Extended exposure to VOCs can lead to short- and long-term health problems, including eye and skin irritation, headaches, asthma, nausea, damage to the central nervous system and organs, and, in some cases, even cancer. Outside, VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides to form smog, a type of ozone pollution that exacerbates climate change.

In the printing industry, one of the major culprits when it comes to VOCs is ink. That’s why we only use vegetable-based inks, which are low VOC, or water-based inks, which are 100% VOC-free. It’s important to us to not only protect our team but to protect the environment as well.

You can protect yourself and others from VOCs by:

  • Using products that are low in VOCs (read labels!)
  • Making sure your home or business is well-ventilated
  • Not smoking
  • Safely disposing of old or unused chemicals, cleaning products, and paint
  • Airing out your dry-cleaning before bringing it inside (or better yet, look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner)