eli5… Why are VOCs ( volatile organic compounds) measured in PPMs (parts per million) when it measure 100s of gases with different toxic levels?

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eli5… Why are VOCs ( volatile organic compounds) measured in PPMs (parts per million) when it measure 100s of gases with different toxic levels?

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First, I am pretty sure that really dangerous gases would have to be labelled separately from “VOC”.

Second, consumers and managers and safety inspectors all prefer looking at a single number, rather than a long list of different gases.

Finally, detecting individual gases requires a much more expensive and bulky equipment, than measuring all VOC’s.

There’s a long and constantly changing list of similar but unique compounds that are considered to be VOCs, and their health hazards are substantially similar.

For this reason, it’s convenient to group these compounds collectively as VOCs when coming up with safe exposure limits.

Companies that make stuff like paint try to make safe stuff. If you make a product with a lot of volatiles, there is separate safety labeling for that. But even among “safe enough” products, some have more and some have less. Some consumers, like those with small kids, will select the lower VOC products to buy. Since safe products have low levels, PPM is an easy scale.