What does VOC mean?

France(French version) Germany(German version to follow)

VOC = Volatile Organic Compound

This term has many different meanings, depending on the frame in which this term is used.

We may collect more definitions here in future.

Indoor air quality and VOC emission testing

Below definitions are used for indoor air quality monitoring, and for VOC emission testing.

WHO World Health Organization

WHO, as cited in ISO 16000-6, defined VOC as any organic compound whose boiling point is in the range from (50 °C to 100 °C) to (240 °C to 260 °C), corresponding to having saturation vapour pressures at 25 °C greater than 100 kPa.

ISO 16000-6, TC 351, French VOC regulations, AgBB, AFSSET and more

Total VOCs (TVOC) is defined in ISO 16000-6 and in forth-coming new EN standard (TC 351) as the sum of volatile organic compounds, sampled on Tenax TA, which elute from a non-polar or slightly polar gas chromatographic separation column between and including n-hexane and n-hexadecane (n-C6 - n-C16), quantified as toluene equivalent (meaning as if it were toluene). Only Germany uses a slightly different definition.

Attention: This covers any organic compound with a boiling ranging circa between 68 °C and 287 °C.

This is the definition mostly used for VOC emission testing throughout the world.

California specification Section 01350

Carbon-containing compounds (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates and ammonium carbonate) with vapor pressures at standard conditions approximately ranging between those for n-pentane through n-heptadecane(n-C5 - n-C17). For the purposes of practice Section 01350, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are considered to be VOCs.

VOC content

Below definitions are used when setting limit values of VOC content in product for reducing total emissions during life-cycle of the product, for minimizing any contribution of VOC to generation of ground level ozone. Limit values apply mostly to paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants.

European Decopaint Directive (2004/42/EC):

VOC is any organic chemical with boiling point below 250 °C at a standard atmospheric pressure of 101.3 kPa. To be given as grams VOC per liter product.

Several US specifications such as SCAQMD:

VOC content is the content of volatile chemical minus the aqueous fraction of the fraction, minus the fraction of non-ozone-generating so-called "exempt compounds", such as acetone. To be given as grams / liter. Here you can download an illustration. Another definition is used by the same regulators, saying that VOC content is the content of any volatile organic chemicals visible with boiling point below 270 °C or 280°C, different definitions apply.

German TRGS 613

Solvent content of a product is the content of any volatile organic chemicals with boiling point below 200 °C. This regulation was made for worker protection.

Other definitions

Other definitions define VOC as a function of vapour pressure at a standard atmospheric pressure of 101.3 kPa.

Other definitions

VVOC = Very Volatile Organic Compound

Any organic compound more volatile than VOC.

SVOC = Semi-Volatile Organic Compound

Any organic compound less volatile than VOC.

NVOC = Non-Volatile Organic Compound

Any organic compound not volatile enough to be detected as vapour-phase constituent of indoor air.

POM = Particle-bound Organic Matter

Any organic compound not volatile enough to be detected as vapour-phase constituent of indoor air but that can be detected in solid form in indoor air - as small airborne particles, or adsorbed on inorganic dust particles.

Eurofins - unique services offered by world-wide market leader

Your Eurofins laboratory can advise you which tests are required for the different purposes and different labels. Testing is performed by Eurofins for most of the labels in Europe and also for USA related purposes - for a non-comprehensive list of labels please click here.

VOC emission testing by Eurofins Product Testing A/S is accredited by DANAK in accordance with ISO 17025 which is the prerequisite for an analytical laboratory - ISO 9001 certification will not be sufficient. For explanation of the difference please click here. Our accreditation is valid world-wide via mutual acceptance within ILAC.

Contact to VOC Testing Laboratories

Please see here contact information of Eurofins VOC testing laboratories in Europe, USA and China:

Order forms and testing request forms are available for free download here.

Updated by: bdqu
Last updated: 07 February 2014