5 Common Items You Might Not Realize Contain VOCs

Updated on November 21, 2022
5 Common Items You Might Not Realize Contain VOCs

VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) are chemicals found in both natural and human-made items. There has been concern in recent years about some VOCs and how they play a role in causing cancer, while others can cause harmful reactions when they escape into the air. Discover five common items in the meat industry you might not realize contain VOCs.

Cleaners and Disinfectants

Lots of household and industrial-strength cleaners contain VOCs. The type of VOC greatly depends on what type of cleaner you’re examining, with aerosols containing the most. While it’s important not to compromise sanitation in a meat-processing facility, it’s a good idea to see if you can find cleaners that contain fewer VOCs.

RTA Office Furniture

Another common item you might not realize contains VOCs is the new particle board shelf in your office. Particle board furniture, also known as ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture, often contains formaldehyde because of the pressed wood. You can also find it in plywood and MDF. To keep your office safe, consider sealing those rough, exposed wooden sections on the back side of your new shelf.

Meat Packaging

Recently there have been a number of studies tracking the presence of VOCs in meat products. Typically, VOCs wind up in food because of environmental factors, and their ubiquitous nature in the modern industrial complex. Some studies have found that packaging systems can play a role in transferring VOCs to meat, but the jury is out on which packaging is most likely to do so.

Commercial Paint

If you’re thinking of having your facility professionally painted, double-check the ingredients in the paint you choose. Some paints contain a chemical called toluene that can cause respiratory irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and more serious conditions in high doses. It’s also flammable at room temperature.

Conveyor Belt Splicing

When you purchase a new conveyor belt for your facility, you’ll usually need to splice it together on site. Recent studies have shown that heating up conveyor belts during the splicing process can release VOCs into the air, depending on what materials and coatings are in the belt. To keep your employees safe, always make sure they’re wearing respirators when splicing or repairing conveyor belts.

If you’re worried about safety in your workplace, there are several ways to measure VOCs in the air. These are typically sensors that alert you to the presence of certain VOCs above a selected concentration. Finding ways to minimize VOCs in the meat industry isn’t an exact science, but there are precautions you can take to keep yourself and other employees safe.