Impacts of VOCs

Health Impacts of VOCs

VOC contamination of drinking water supplies is a human-health concern because many are toxic and are known or suspected human carcinogens. Vapor intrusion into homes is currently a problem in the Como neighborhood of Minneapolis and was a common problem in a number of locations from leaking underground storage tanks at businesses like gas stations. In addition, VOCs, smog, and ozone have a number of other human health impacts, detailed below.

Direct human health effects from VOCs:

  • Acute exposure to VOCs can lead to symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; nausea; and dizziness
  • Chronic exposure to VOCs can increase the risk of cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, and Central Nervous System damage

Human health effects from smog and ozone

  • Exposure “may lead to increased school absences, medication use, visits to doctors and emergency rooms, and hospital admissions,” and “increase the risk of premature death from heart or lung disease,” according to the U.S. EPA
  • Each decrease of 1 ppb ozone  produces an annual health benefit of $35 million in Minnesota in 2020
  • Groups particularly sensitive to ozone exposure are children, active adults and people with existing respiratory illnesses