VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) – What Are They?

VOCs as defined by Wikipedia are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. An excellent example of this is formaldehyde, which evaporates from paint.  They also include vapors/gases released from a variety of common products such as adhesive, air fresheners, dry cleaning fluids, solvents and pesticides.

Unfortunately, drinking water may contain contaminants that are classified as VOCs. Due to the fact that it would be costly to test for every potential chemical that would be classified as a VOC, the EPA regulates a subset of chemicals that are considered typical contaminants of a water supply.  For those on municipal water systems, you should receive an annual water quality report.  In this report, it will outline the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for those common chemicals.  This will provide you with the information about your water quality and where it ranks amongst the EPA guidelines. 

One other key point, private well water is not covered or regulated under EPA guidelines. This certainly doesn’t mean that well water is unsafe.  It merely means that water derived from wells should be tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that the water quality is within guidelines and doesn’t identify any potential issues.

At the end of the day, high quality water filters are the only effective way to remove Volatile Organic Compounds in water.  If you’re concerned about your water quality, take some time to research water filtration systems, talk to your local water provider or municipal water utility and review your annual water quality report.