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VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

( Article Type: Explanation )

VOCs are primarily the lighter 'fractions' of oil or hydrocarbons, that is, the parts that evaporates easily because they have a low boiling point. Some of these products are used because of their evaporating or 'quick drying' characteristics. Most VOCs are carbon-hydrogen compounds (hydrocarbons) but they also include aldehydes and ketones. Emissions come, for example, from households (cleaners, cosmetics, lacquering), metal industry (paints and coatings), printing industry (inks and cleaners), oil refineries (loading, storage and transfer of hydrocarbon products), petrol stations (the pumping of petrol), and the dry cleaning industry (cleaning solvents). Tropospheric ozone forms as a result of photochemical (sunlight) reactions between nitrous oxides and VOCs and this can be hazardous to health in peak concentrations. Various countries (e.g. the European Union, with the Netherlands in the forefront) have begun to control the release of VOCs by setting various reduction targets.