What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds, often referred to as VOCs, are carbon-containing chemicals that easily evaporate into the air at room temperature. These gaseous compounds are emitted from countless household products, in particular from certain types of flooring.

Vinyl, carpet, and composite wood often contain glues, adhesives, and additives that off-gas these harmful VOCs, including formaldehyde, into your home. Exposure to these airborne carcinogens puts infants and children most at risk, since they spend more time close to the floor, and has been linked to the early onset of breathing issues.

In this guide, we’ll delve into what exactly VOCs are, where they come from, and the dangers they pose through synthetic flooring materials. We will also highlight our own solutions to creating healthy, low-VOC environments in your home, using natural and ethically sourced hardwood, adhesives, and innovative laminates and cork flooring.

What are VOCs?

VOCs encompass a wide variety of individual chemical compounds that share the trait of easily evaporating into gaseous form. Thousands of household and industrial products contain and emit VOCs.

Some common examples include:

  • Formaldehyde: Found in pressed wood products, flooring, furniture, and adhesives.
  • Benzene: Present in stored fuels, paints, tobacco smoke, and vehicle exhausts.
  • Ethylene glycol: Used as antifreeze in vehicles and de-icers.
  • Chloroform: Used in manufacturing and a byproduct of chlorination.
  • Methanol: Found in varnishes, paint removers, and windscreen wiper fluid.
  • Perchloroethylene: Used in the dry cleaning process and some aerosols.

These and other VOCs are emitted both indoors and out. Major indoor sources include building materials, furniture, cleaning products, office equipment, and cigarette smoke. Outdoors, volatile organic compounds originate from fuel combustion, industrial processes, and chemical storage or transfers.

Indoor VOC levels average 2–5 times higher than outdoors, likely due to the trapping effect caused by enclosed indoor spaces. Without proper ventilation, VOCs emitted from products and materials accumulate inside. Even a seemingly sealed, energy-efficient home cannot block VOCs already present indoors from accumulating.

VOCs and Your Health

Exposure to VOCs, either in concentrated forms or over long periods, carries certain health risks. Sensitive populations face increased effects, but VOCs can impact anyone’s health and quality of life.

Immediate symptoms commonly associated with VOC exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye and throat irritation, worsening of asthma symptoms, and allergic skin reactions. Higher exposure may cause more severe effects like vomiting, nosebleeds, and breathing difficulty.

The Risks of Long-Term Exposure

Long-term exposure has been linked to liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.

Those most vulnerable to VOCs include children, infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions and respiratory complaints. Even low levels of VOCs may irritate sensitive individuals, so limiting exposure where possible is a must.

The first place you can reduce risk is on the floors you choose for your home.

VOCs in Flooring

Numerous flooring materials have drawn concerns over emitting harmful toxins into the air over time, especially vinyl and carpeting.

To avoid flooring VOCs, natural material options like engineered woodcork, and innovative ‘wood-look’ laminates made without formaldehyde are ideal – such as all those made by us.

CX103 Pacamera Plank 01

Low-to-No VOCs With V4 Wood Flooring

We continue to stand out from other flooring brands through our commitment to low-VOC products, going far beyond minimum requirements in order to engineer floors for truly healthy spaces.

Our engineered woodlaminates, and cork floors are all tested to meet E1 standards, meaning even the naturally occurring VOCs in the hardwood we use is extremely low and safe for your home – unlike synthetic options such as LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles).

Choose Healthier Floors for Your Home

Volatile organic compounds emitted from certain flooring materials can silently jeopardise our health, but thankfully, we offer low-VOC flooring options for all homes in the UK. Browse our website to discover beautiful flooring that is as healthy as it is durable.

We also offer free samples to experience the purity of our flooring for yourself. Bringing V4 flooring into your home minimises exposure to VOCs and promotes better indoor air quality for all.

Breathe easy knowing your beautiful new floors are not compromising your safety, or that of your family.


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