Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly found in consumer products, including furniture, sealants and paints. Thus, indoor VOCs have become a public health concern, especially in high-income countries (HICs), where people spend most of their time indoors, and indoor and outdoor air exchange is minimal due to a lack of ventilation. VOCs produce high levels of reaction with the airway epithelium and mucosa membrane and is linked with pulmonary diseases. This paper takes a stock of the literature to assess the strength of association (measured by effect size) between VOCs and pulmonary diseases with the focus on asthma and its related symptoms by conducting a meta-analysis. The literature was searched using the PubMed database. A total of 49 studies that measured VOCs or VOC types and pulmonary health outcomes were included in the analysis. The results of these studies were tabulated, and standard effect size of each study was computed. Most studies were conducted in high-income countries, including France (n
= 7), Japan (n
= 7) and the United States (n
= 6). Our analysis suggests that VOCs have a medium-sized effect on pulmonary diseases, including the onset of asthma (effect size (or Cohen’s d) ~0.37; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.25–0.49; n
= 23) and wheezing (effective size ~0.26; 95% CI = 0.10–0.42; n
= 10). The effect size also varied by country, age and disease type. Multiple stakeholders must be engaged in strategies to mitigate and manage VOC exposure and its associated pulmonary disease burden.
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