Volatile organic compounds – otherwise known as VOCs – are a variety of compounds that are emitted as gases from certain types of solids and liquids. The concentration of VOCs can be particularly high indoors (up to 10x higher than outdoors) and can be emitted from a vast amount of household products.

Wax, paints, and varnishes all contain organic solvents, as well as degreasing, hobby, cleaning, cosmetic, and disinfecting products. These are just some of the products that can contain VOCs:

  • Pesticide
  • Hobby supplies
  • Moth repellants
  • Air fresheners
  • Wood preservatives
  • paint splash consisting of multiple colorsAerosol sprays
  • Paints, paint strippers, and other solvents
  • Building materials
  • Office equipment: correction fluids, printers, copiers, carbonless copy paper
  • Glues, adhesives, permanent markers, photographic solutions

Risks of VOCs

There are a certain number of risks when using any product with a high VOC content. Naturally, if you are using these products for a prolonged time, you will want to have adequate ventilation in your workspace. Never use in a small enclosed area for a long period of time. During paint stripping, for example, VOC levels can be over 1,000 times higher than regular air. These are just a few of the symptoms of acute VOC exposure:

  • Visual disorders
  • Memory impairment
  • Eye/respiratory tract irritation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Emesis
  • Nausea
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Throat and nose discomfort
  • A decrease in the level of serum cholinesterase


colored smoke clouds

Different precautions are needed for different solutions. If you have a question about any of our products, contact us for all the information necessary. For products not produced by Gellner Industrial, make sure to double-check the packaging of the product; usually, all relevant safety information should be provided by the manufacturer. Depending on the type of organic chemical used, the health effects can range from non-existent to immediately detrimental.

Reducing Your Exposure to VOCs

Don’t be one of those people who fail to read safety manuals. Certain types of chemicals can be very toxic, so limiting your exposure to these compounds should be a priority. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Keep out of reach of pets and children
  • Never mix two household products together
  • Measure the air for formaldehyde if you are concerned about exposure
  • Always read the label
  • While using products that emit VOCs, provide adequate ventilation and fresh air
  • Throw away partially full or used containers safely and responsibly (VOCs can be emitted from closed containers)
  • Take extra care when using products containing benzene and methylene chloride

For some jobs, it may be impossible to 100% reduce your exposure to these chemicals. If you do have to work with these compounds, make sure to take all of the necessary precautions. We highly recommend a paint respirator or face mask when painting or applying polymers.

Wonderwet IV: A VOC-Free Water-Soluble Acrylic Polymer Resin

Wonderwet is a water-soluble acrylic polymer resin designed to retard the drying rate of any water paint, printing ink or adhesive. We’re also proud to say that this product is VOC free! Paint chemists can now formulate low or zero VOC paints without sacrificing open time.

If you have any questions on how to properly apply our acrylic polymers, performance coatings or inks, contact us today or give us a call at (570) 668-8800.