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Volatile Organic Compounds in Tartu Office Buildings

Argo Soon and Erkki Kähkönen

The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted by many materials and activities are common indoor air pollutants. It is believed that VOCs might contribute to many adverse health effects, but there is scant evidence to support this. The difficulties involved in assessing the effects of VOCs involve both the chemistry of indoor air and the physiological responses in varying physical conditions. Inconsistent results of experimental studies and difficulties in performing longitudinal epidemiological studies have led to the conclusion that only higher concentrations (in the range of 1–25mg/m3) of VOCs in indoor air should be considered to relate to higher health risks. This pilot study provides evidence that there is no such risk in Estonian offices.