Whether it is an electronics manufacturing plant, offshore drilling platform in the middle of an ocean, or a medical research laboratory, one of the biggest threats workers face is exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Dangerous in many ways, VOCs can not only result in serious health issues for workers who are exposed but may also lead to production shutdowns or costly equipment repairs.

To keep these situations from happening, companies rely on VOC monitoring systems that can not only detect VOC very quickly but also alert those in the area of impending danger. If you are wondering which systems are best and why, here are some answers to your questions.

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Work Environments

From an offshore drilling platform that deals with high humidity levels 24/7, manufacturing plants where equipment creates constant vibrations, or warehouses where temperature extremes are common, work environments play a significant role in how volatile organic compounds sensors perform on the job.

Since these systems are needed in a variety of work environments, they are designed with software and electronics made to withstand harsh conditions. An important part of any system is the ability to send information in real-time to engineers and other personnel in charge of monitoring and analyzing data.

Detecting VOCs

When systems are put in place to detect volatile organic compounds, they most likely use sensors called photoionization detectors, otherwise known as a “PID”. These sensors use high-intensity ultraviolet light to ionize complex molecules. Another way to describe the process is to say that the high energy photons emitted by the UV lamp hit electrons buried in the VOC molecules so hard that they are knocked free and then counted by the detector’s electronics.  These sensors have a very wide dynamic range and can detect levels into the ‘parts per billion’ concentration level.

Pro Tip: PID sensors are complex devices that should be kept away from vibration and temperature extremes. 

How to Monitor Confined Spaces

Since VOC leaks and buildups often happen near pipes, valves, and equipment that may be malfunctioning, most of these serious situations occur in confined spaces at industrial sites and labs. Because of this, more and more emphasis is now placed on properly monitoring confined spaces.

The best solution for a confined space is a sample draw monitor that integrates a sample pump, low-flow monitor switch, and high-performance gas detector. These units are often mounted outside the confined space, making maintenance and calibration work easy to perform. This results in greater uptime, more accurate calibrations, and a more visible warning of problems that are easy to recognize before the employee enters the potentially hazardous confined space. 

Choosing a VOC Detector

Since there are many complexities involved when selecting a VOC detector, do not try to make the decision on your own. Instead, speak to an experienced and knowledgeable Applications Engineer at Global Detection Systems. We look forward to helping you keep your workplace safe and healthy.

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