News Analysis

Phthalates Absorbed More Readily Than Previously Thought

SVOCs like phthalates are released into the air, according to a new study, so you’re breathing and absorbing them, not just eating them.

Conventional wisdom has had us focusing on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a top priority for indoor air quality. Designers who know about them at all probably consider semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and non-volatile compounds as lower priorities.

That’s because VOCs can instantly vaporize under normal indoor conditions; they can have an immediate and noticeable impact on anyone who breathes. SVOCs have generally been lumped together with non-volatile organic compounds and thought mostly to represent an exposure risk if rubbed onto the skin or when released from finishes by wear and adsorbed onto dust. Parents are told to vacuum regularly to crawling babies, but the scenarios for this type of exposure have seemed more limited.

Published January 28, 2016