Volatile & Semi-volatile Organic Chemicals

Many volatile and semi-volatile organic chemicals, including widely used solvents such as acetone, TCE, and PCE, have the tendency to disperse widely when released into the air or water. Exposures to these chemicals can occur through contaminated drinking water, intrusion of vapor from groundwater into buildings, and inhalation and/or dermal contact with use in the workplace or in consumer applications.

Because these chemicals are volatile and many are soluble in water, an intimate understanding of their physicochemical, fate-and-transport, and toxicological properties is needed to characterize both exposure and the associated potential for human and/or environmental species health risks. For example, the intrusion of organic chemical vapors from groundwater into buildings is a complex process that is influenced by groundwater flow, soil type, and saturation of the soil layer, as well as building structure and ventilation. The resulting chemical exposure assessments, combined with toxicological information are needed to characterize the health risks to building occupants.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent health and risk scientists provide the highest quality technical, toxicological, and safety assessment services available to assist our clients with environmental and toxicological issues related to volatile and semi-volatile organic chemicals. Our scientists have in-depth expertise in various disciplines of toxicology of key interest in health risk evaluations, including cancer , neurotoxicology , developmental and reproductive toxicology . We also have experience conducting pharmacokinetic modeling in order to translate animal and/or in vitro dosimetry data to human exposures. Finally, we have the expertise necessary to estimate potential human health risks associated with measured and/or modelled exposures to volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.

Some of our relevant capabilities include:


  • Assessment of the dose (exposure) and/or biological relevance of toxicity outcomes from animal or other toxicity testing systems to humans
  • Physiologically-Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to perform cross-species and cross-route exposure extrapolations to produce relevant human exposure information 
  • Application of globally-accepted models to quantify the potential health risks associated with human exposures of concern
  • Assessment of chemical transport and fate in the environment.

Professionals