Composti organici volatili

di Serena Savelli 63

Composti Organici Volatili

Con la denominazione di Composti Organici Volatili (VOC) viene indicato un insieme di sostanze (più di trecento) in forma liquida o di vapore suscettibili di evaporare facilmente a temperatura ambiente.

La suscettibilità all’evaporazione e quindi la volatilità di queste sostanze è una diretta conseguenza delle proprietà chimico-fisiche dei VOC, in particolare dal loro punto di ebollizione che va da un limite inferiore di 50-100 °C a un limite superiore di 240-260 °C.

Tra i più noti vi sono:

  • idrocarburi alifatici (dal n-esano, al n-esadecano e i metilesani);
  • terpeni, gli idrocarburi aromatici;
  • (benzene e derivati, toluene, o-xilene, stirene);
  • gli idrocarburi alogenati (cloroformio, diclorometano, clorobenzeni, ecc.);
  • gli alcoli (etanolo, propanolo, butanolo e derivati);
  • gli esteri, i chetoni, e le aldeidi (tra cui la formaldeide);

Negli ambienti chiusi, negli interni di case, uffici, negozi c’è un’altissima concentrazione di sostanze VOC. Questi infatti si trovano in:

  • prodotti per la pulizia a cera (cere liquide e in aerosol per pavimenti e mobili);
  • prodotti per la pulizia dei bagni, dei vetri, dei forni, paste abrasive, detergenti per stoviglie, deodoranti solidi e spray;
  • pitture e prodotti associati: pitture ad olio, uretaniche, acriliche, vernici a spirito per gommalacca, mordente e coloranti per legno, diluenti, detergenti per pennelli, sverniciatori etc…;
  • pesticidi, insetticidi e disinfettanti;
  • colle e adesivi;
  • prodotti per la cura della persona e cosmetici;
  • prodotti per l’auto;
  • mobili e tessuti;
  • materiali da costruzione;
  • stampanti e fotocopiatrici;
  • fumo di tabacco.

Non mancano le sorgenti outdoor di VOC, tra le quali le emissioni industriali, i pesticidi ed i gas di scarico delle automobili.

Effetti sulla salute

I VOC danno luogo ad effetti acuti e cronici. A seconda delle concentrazioni e dei  tempi di esposizione tra gli effetti acuti si annoverano: irritazioni agli occhi, al naso e alla gola, mal di testa, nausea, vertigini, asma. Quando i tempi di esposizione sono prolungati oppure le concentrazioni sono elevate i  VOC possono causare sulla persona esiti cronici come danni ai reni, al fegato, al sistema nervoso centrale, fino a provocare il cancro (nel caso particolare del benzene e della formaldeide). I soggetti più sensibili ad i VOC ed alle loro conseguenze sono: le persone con problemi respiratori, i bambini, gli anziani ed i soggetti allergici ai composti chimici.

Per approfondire:

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