National Physical Laboratory

Oxygenated-VOCs and semi-VOCs

Oxygenated-VOCs and semi-VOCs

Oxygenated VOCs

Oxygenated VOCs (oxy-VOCs) are a class of components which include alcohols, ketones and aldehydes, many of which occur both anthropogenically and biogenically. For example, methanol is the second most abundant organic component in the Earth's atmosphere and is a common industrial solvent. Oxy-VOCs are found in biomass burning plumes and their emissions are closely monitored due to their influence on the HOx cycle and their possible contribution towards tropospheric ozone, which affects air quality.

NPL offers a range of traceable gas standards containing oxy-VOCs at an amount fraction of 5 μmol/mol. One typical multi-component mixture contains the components shown in the list below; mixtures containing other oxy-VOCs (including acetaldehyde) are available on request.

Methanol Ethanol Acetone
n-hexane Propane Benzene


Formaldehyde is a key atmospheric species that readily photo-dissociates to create radicals that initiate oxidation reaction chains. The measurement of formaldehyde is also an important part of indoor air monitoring. NPL provides a range of static and dynamic formaldehyde standards with amount fractions from 1 to 10 μmol/mol.


Semi-volatile organic compounds (semi-VOCs) include a diverse range of compounds often emitted from building materials and furnishings. As a result, these components can build up in indoor environments and may have a detrimental impact on human health. These components are therefore of significant concern and NPL are researching novel methods to provide traceable measurements of semi-VOCs at trace levels.


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Last Updated: 22 Sep 2016
Created: 23 Sep 2013


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