VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are a frequent byproduct of the processes and materials used in creating office furniture. In some new cubicle systems, the adhesives or finishes used may release chemicals such as formaldehyde into the air for a while after installation. This process is called off gassing. Not everyone is highly sensitive to these chemicals, but those who are may have a number of problems unless they work in VOC free cubicles.
What’s The Big Deal?
According to the EPA, acute exposure to VOCs can cause immediate reactions such as nausea, fatigue, headaches, rashes, and breathing difficulties in sensitive individuals. Long term exposure to chemicals may compromise immune response. This can increase the occurrence of the common cold, allergy attacks, flu and other ailments.
Again, not every employee will experience these symptoms. Plus, it can be hard to track down exactly what is causing such problems – especially since sensitive individuals often have similar health issues from exposure to chemicals at home.
However, as employers become more health conscious by promoting wellness programs, it makes sense for them to also look at the entire work environment for areas that can be improved for all workers. If your cubicle systems have been in place for years, they are no longer off gassing and are not a matter for concern. However, VOCs are something you might want to think about when it is time to purchase brand new cubicles.
Choose Greenguard Certified Low VOC or VOC Free Cubicles
Greenguard is a national organization that measures the safety of green office furniture. Distributors of eco-friendly furnishings rely on this Indoor Air Quality certification to ensure the products they sell do not pose a health hazard. Greenguard’s exacting standards limit VOC and particle emissions to extremely low levels. All the components used in a manufacturer’s product line are tested – not just one or two. The website makes it simple to search for products by type or manufacturer. Besides increasing indoor air quality, these items may also help you earn credits for LEED certification.