chapter  7
34 Pages

Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) surround us at all hours of the day. Each breath we take contains some hundreds of these compounds, many of which our bodies must metabolize or excrete to remain healthy. Both outdoor and indoor sources contribute to our exposure, but for a large percentage of these compounds, it is a small indoor or personal source right under our nose that

is the largest contributor. These facts were first demonstrated on a large national scale by the Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies of the early 1980s, and this historical effort is described below. The TEAM studies benefited from the availability of new sorbents, stronger batteries, and miniaturized pumps to allow small personal monitors to measure 12-hour exposures to a target list of some 32 VOCs. Because of the extraordinarily small concentrations of most VOCs, methods of sampling and analysis have had to meet extraordinary demands for sensitivity and stability. Progress in developing such methods is continuing today, and this chapter provides a very thorough coverage of these methods.