TVOCs, Semi Volatiles, Formaldehyde, Second Hand Cigarette Smoke

chemical flume produce VOCs

VOCs, TVOCs, and Semi Volitales

Volatile Organic Compounds are chemicals that most people can smell, depending on the concentration in the air. 

Total Organic Compounds is a group of chemicals created to simply understanding your air quality.  

Semi-volatiles are chemicals that most people can’t smell, but do impact your air quality.




HAPs are classified by the EPA as known or suspected  chemicals that have serious health or environmental effects. Your report includes any HAPs that are found in your indoor air.


Formaldehyde is included in our main testing for VOCs. Formaldehyde testing only is also offered. See below.


VOCs are divided into these major categories:

  • Paints and Varnishes
  • PVC Cement
  • Toluene Based Building Materials
  • Gasoline
  • Diesen, Kerosene, Fuel Oil
  • Light Hydrocarbons
  • Light Solvents
  • Freons
  • Personal Care and Cleaning Products
  • Fragrances
  • Dry Cleaning Solvents


The common sources of formaldehyde are glue uses in building materials fabrication, composite wood products, insulation, and cigarette smoke. Permanent press fabrics also have formaldehyde. Some fuel-burning appliances also produce formaldehyde.


California has banned the use or import of formaldehyde-containing products. Here’s more information from the California Air Resources Board.

Second Hand Cigarette Smoke

It would be a wonderful world if the results of this testing could say “yes, it’s present” or “no, it’s not present.” But the science just isn’t there. Here’s the problems: there are a lot of different cigarette manufacturers that add a wide variety of chemicals to their products. What is used are a group of chemicals known as TS marker compounds. These marker compounds could indicate the presence of tobacco smoke, side stream smoke, stale cigarette smoke, etc., However, even if you and I can smell the tobacco smoke, it may not show up in the lab analysis. The further compound things, nicotine is normally present in all cigarettes, but it’s not easy to find airborne nicotine because it doesn’t stay in the air very long.  How the building is built (air exchanges, construction materials), the temperature and humidity, porous materials present, where the sample was collected, and whether sampling occurs in the same area as the smoking or in an adjacent space.

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