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Building Occupant Exposures to VOCs in New Construction or Recently Renovated Structures

The building science professionals at Clark Seif Clark provide inspections, testing and consulting services to identify and mitigate exposure concerns.

Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE

Strong odors in new or recently renovated indoor environments are often due to off-gassing from new building materials, finishes and furnishings.

Almost everyone has at one time or another walked into a newly constructed or recently renovated home or office and comment about the “new” smell. While the odor is pleasant to some, and may invoke feelings of a clean and fresh indoor environment, quite often it actually means the person is being exposed to elevated levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes VOCs as organic chemical compounds with a composition that makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure. A few examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, toluene and acetone.
Strong odors in new or recently renovated indoor environments are often due to off-gassing from new building materials, finishes and furnishings. VOCs may come from treated or engineered wood products, carpets, flooring, cabinets, paints, stains, varnishes, caulking, adhesives and many other materials. Typically, VOC levels in the indoor air will decrease over time, but just how long it will take depends on a number of factors. It’s also important to know that VOCs can be reintroduced into the indoor environment from the use of some common materials, including cleaning supplies, air fresheners, pesticides and aerosol sprays.
“Exposure concerns associated with VOCs vary greatly from those that are highly toxic or known carcinogens, to those with no known health effects,” said Franco Seif, President at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of any negative effects depend on many factors, including the individual, chemical compound, level of exposure and length of time exposed. Some of the more common exposure complaints include eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches and dizziness.”
Identifying VOCs and other indoor air quality (IAQ) pollutants in residential, commercial and institutional properties are the building science experts at Clark Seif Clark. CSC offers comprehensive indoor environmental quality assessments, inspections, audits, testing and monitoring services. If issues are found, their professionals can recommend ways to mitigate or eliminate the concern. They also recently sponsored a video about VOCs in new construction that can be seen at:
To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, building science, industrial hygiene, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues.  CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest.  The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

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