Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and non-methane volatile compounds (NMVOCs)

Other names

In organic chemistry and the automobile industry, the term hydrocarbons, or HC, is also used for volatile organic carbons


  • a multitude of organic substances with a vapour pressure of at least 0.1 mbar at 20°C or a maximum boiling point of 240°C at 1013.25 mbar.

Main sources

  • motorised road transport (incomplete combustion, evaporation of fuels)
  • industry and commerce (evaporation of solvents)

Thresholds for the reporting requirement of facilities in accordance with Annex 2 PRTRO

(Ordinance on the Register relating to Pollutant Release and the Transfer of Waste and of Pollutants in Waste Water)

  • Air               100,000 kg/year
  • Water           -
  • Soil               -


  • carcinogenic (individual substances such as benzene)
  • not toxic to highly toxic compounds
  • significant contribution to the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer (halogenated VOCs, especially fully halogenated VOCs such as CFCs -11, -12, -113, carbon tetrachloride)
  • VOCs with nitrogen oxides: important precursors to the formation of photochemical oxidants such as ozone
  • contributes to the greenhouse gas effect


  • introduction of catalytic converters
  • exhaust air cleaning facilities in industry and commerce
  • incentive fee

Status and changes

Air pollution levels of volatile organic compounds have decreased by about 75% since 1980. The measures taken to date are insufficient to reach the air pollution targets (ambient limit values of ozone).

Further information

Last modification 16.12.2016

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