What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

Last updated: December 10, 2012

Professional painter staring at a heavily painted wall

Some of the most harmful chemicals found in paint are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are carbon based solvents that help make paint spreadable and make it stick to walls. As paint dries, VOC’s are released into the air at high levels. These VOCs enter the air and react with other elements and can lead to a variety of health issues including breathing problems, headaches, watery eyes and nausea. As a homeowner, you have options as to the type of paint that you use for your projects. Many paint manufacturers are now offering low or zero VOC paint lines to suit your interior and exterior painting needs. In general, the lower the VOC level of a paint, the safer it is.