Volatile organic compounds

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) refer to organic chemical compounds which have significant vapor pressures and can affect the environment and human health. VOCs are released from man-made sources such as gasoline (petrol), paints, solvents, pesticides, and biogenic sources, such as pine and citrus tree emissions.[1][2]

VOCs can react with nitrogen oxides (NOx) released from sources such as coal plants to form smog - photochemical smog is the chemical reaction of sunlight, nitrogen oxides and VOCs in the atmosphere, which leaves airborne particles (called particulate matter) and ground-level ozone (smog).[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 "What is Smog?", Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, CCME.ca
  2. "Coal Power: Air Pollution," Union of Concerned Scientists, accessed September 2010

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