Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are found in varying amounts in most types of paint. These unstable, carbon-containing compounds are solvents that keep the paint in liquid form and make it easy to apply.
Volatile organic compounds rapidly vaporize as the paint dries. Once in the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone. This exposure causes acute ailments, including breathing problems, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
The federal government limits the volatile organic compound content for flat finish paint to 250 grams per liter and 380 grams per liter for other finishes, as of 2015. In addition to regular paint, manufacturers make low-VOC and no-VOC paint.